To be clear, I am talking about a move operation within the same partition. For example, say I were to move a file up one directory; before the move, I have "C:\temp\test.txt", after the move I have "C:\test.txt", and "C:\temp\test.txt" no longer exists. Can someone give me a good understanding of what Windows is doing under the hood in this scenario, as opposed to doing a copy operation or a move operation to a different partition/drive?

1 Answer 1


To the best of my understanding, the data never moves an inch. Rather, the index of the data is updated. Imagine the "index" as a list of data, and it's physical storage location on the hard drive. Hence the index changes from saying "c:\temp\test.txt is at disk block 100" to "c:\test.txt is at disk block 100" and the data itself, whether it's 1k or 1GB, never moves.

  • Thanks, that is what I suspected. Do you happen to know of any Microsoft knowledge base or MSDN documents describing how Windows handles this? I'm just looking for more details (perhaps there is nothing available). Thanks for the help!
    – Sipp
    Nov 16, 2010 at 22:31
  • Hey I tried looking around for this, but apparently my Google-fu failed me this time. Perhaps I'm not hitting the right keywords, but things like disk index, file allocation table and the such should find it I'm sure. Post a link if you find something since I'm sure others would love to see it as well. Best of luck! Nov 17, 2010 at 13:28
  • Thanks for looking, I appreciate the help. I too have done a fair bit of searching for this stuff and have come up mostly empty handed. For what it's worth, here is the best stuff I've found: * 1-script.com/forums/… * 1-script.com/forums/… * eggheadcafe.com/software/aspnet/33971598/… These links don't quite capture what I'm looking for, so you're right, it could be a lack of good search terms.
    – Sipp
    Nov 17, 2010 at 17:16

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