Defragging Your Harddrive

Why defrag?

Windows comes with a collection of house cleaning tools, including ScanDisk, Disk Defragmenter and Disk Cleanup, to help keep your disk in peak working order.

Why should you bother with the housework? A couple of reasons. First, disks are hard working, mechanical devices and, like all mechanical devices, prone to failure. A little preventative maintenance can warn you of potential problems and fix minor glitches before they can do damage to your data.

Second, the way files are organised on your drive has a perceptible impact on the performance of your computer. If your files are stored neatly, end-to-end, without fragmentation, reading and writing to the disk is speedier.

What is file fragmentation?

Sometimes when you install a program or create a data file, the file ends up chopped up into chunks and stored in multiple locations on the disk. This is called fragmentation.

What makes this happen?

When you first install your operating system and programs on your hard disk, they are written to the disk, for the most part, in one contiguous block without any gaps. The exceptions are certain system files that must be stored in specific locations. Over time, as you create and then delete documents or uninstall programs, once-filled locations are left empty and you end up with files dotted all over the disk.

Now, when Windows is writing a file to the disk, it looks for a suitable piece of free space in which to store it. What happens, then, when you copy a 40M database or audio file to the disk and the biggest slice of free space is only 30M? Or say you modify an existing file, appending a whole bunch of data so the file now takes up more space on the disk. To accommodate the files, Windows writes the first part of the file in one section of the disk and then scouts around for other places to store the rest of the file. The end result is that a single file may be stored in several chunks scattered about the disk.

Instructions On How To Run Disk Defrag (Win 95, 98, ME, 2000, and XP)

1. Left click on "Start", Then on "Programs", Then on Accessories, then on "System Tools", Then on Disk Defragmenter. Note: For Win XP After clicking on "programs", you must click on "All Programs", and then follow the above instructions.

2. Select Drive C: (Physical Drive) or the physical hard disk drive you wish to defragment. "Defrag" can take as long as 3-5 hrs. to complete.

For Win 2000 & XP users, please choose "Defragment", instead of "O.K."

Note: If Disk Defragmenter reports an error because the drive is being written, Press CTRL+ALT+DEL ONCE and end any task that's not either SYSTRAY or EXPLORER. Repeat this process as many times as necessary until only Systray and Explorer remain in the window. Repeat steps 1 & 2. Please also turn off your screen saver by right clicking on an open space on your desktop and choosing properties. From the properties window, please choose the "Screensaver" tab. Under Screen Saver Please choose "None" in the drop down menu and select APPLY. Repeat Steps 1 & 2.