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Defragmenting Your Hard Drive
I've received many emails from people that don't know how to defragment their hard drive, don't know why they should, or are having trouble getting their computer to perform the task. This tip answers all those issues.
You can increase your system's performance by defragmenting your hard drive regularly. As files are saved and deleted, software is installed and uninstalled, and other computing tasks are performed, they gradually cause your hard drive to become fragmented. This simply means your files become scattered all over the drive instead of being stored in optimized locations.
Your PC frequently needs to call upon the hard drive to store files in virtual memory, and a fragmented disk makes that harder for it to do. Applications also slow down over time because they need to call on data from all over your hard drive rather than from an optimized location.
By defragmenting your hard drive you can restore the speed at which your computer operates to its optimum level. Defragmenting can also save wear and tear on your hard drive and extend its lifespan.
How Do I Know If I Need To Defragment?
A few signs of a hard drive that has become too fragmented include:
Slowing or sluggish performance.
Out of memory messages.
Failure to complete tasks.
General Protection Faults.
Frequent frozen screens/lockups.
What Does Defragmenting Do?
You computer stores your files by seeking out the nearest free space. This often isn't optimal. As groups of files become spread far and wide on your system, there may not be an optimal place for your computer to save new files.
Furthermore, if a saved file is surrounded on the disk by other saved files, then you add new data to surrounded file, it actually becomes a split file on your system with one part in one place on your hard drive and the other part or parts in other areas. This obviously isn't optimal. Defragmenting your hard drive on a regular basis regroups your files in a logical sequence.
How often should I defragment?
It depends on how often you use your computer, how many files you save and delete, how often you install and uninstall software, and the size of your hard drive. The larger the hard drive and the more often you make changes to it, the more often you likely will need to defragment.
Ideally, the average user should check monthly to see if the system needs defragmented. Minimally, check once every couple months. Heavy duty users many need to check once per week! If your system doesn't need defragmenting it will inform you that it doesn't need defragmenting and ask if you want to continue. As you perform this task routinely, you'll gain a better understanding of how often you need to defragment for your personal usage habits.
How Do I Defragment My Computer
You can skip step one if you want to, but it is better to get a clean start on defragmenting so I do recommend following this step.
Before defragmenting, run the Disk Cleanup utility to delete all your temp files. Go to Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools and choose Disk Cleanup to run the disk cleanup operation.
Delete any emails you don't want and compact your email folders.
Empty the Recycle Bin.
If you really want to do a bang-up job, uninstall any old software programs you never use and won't need again. They're just taking up space anyway.
One of the main problems people have in defragmenting is that the defragmenting process has to keep restarting. Many things, basically everything, causes the defragmenter to restart. Below are a few things to do before you defragment that will help defragmenter to finish its task:
Close all open programs.
Do not use your computer for anything while defragmenting.
Turn off your screensaver.
Turn off any power saving features so it doesn't go into a power saving state.
Next, go to Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools and choose Disk Defragmenter. Choose the drive you want to defragment and choose OK, follow the instructions. If your disk doesn't need defragmenting it will give you the option to continue or cancel.
If you find defragmenter still keeps restarting after following the above guidelines, then also add the steps below to your pre-defragmenting routine.
Physically disconnect from the internet, unplug the line.
Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete at the same time to open the Close Programs dialog (Win 95/98) or Task Manager (Win XP). Close/end task all the programs listed here. These are "hidden" programs running in the background that may be causing defragmenter to restart. A few things you won't be able to close, such as iexplore.exe and systray. These shouldn't cause a problem.
Defragmenting, especially on a greatly fragmented drive, can take a good while, perhaps hours. For this reason, try starting it when you don't need to use your computer, like before you go to bed. If you use your computer during the defragmentation process it has to keep restarting, and so, may never finish under those condistions, so do it when you can let it work without the interference from having to perform other tasks.
Once your hard drive has been defragmented, restart your computer.
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Re: Defragmenting Your Hard Drive
Crickey !!!! - Only once a year !!!!
I use this program now and it really does keep your computer up-to-date on the defragmentation side.