Defragmenting your Hard Drive

Howdy and welcome to this weeks fun filled edition of The Weekly Geek!

This week we want to speed up the performance of your computer by defragmenting your hard drive(s). Performance is greatly reduced when programs and files become scattered on the hard drive inside your computer.

To understand why files become fragmented think of a hard drive as a music CD, information in written from the inside center of the CD out. On a hard drive, you add programs and your data, things like email, letters, checkbook information and pictures. As time goes by, you will probably remove some of this information by deleting it. This creates gaps on the hard drive the Windows tries to fill. If a file does not fit into the gap, Windows simply puts part of it in the space and the next part in the next available space. In order to place these files back into a semblance of order, Microsoft provides a basic defragmentation tool with all versions of Windows except NT (sorry again NT users, this is the second time Microsoft didn’t deem you worthy).

To access the defragmentation (defrag) program close all open programs so that you are at the Desktop (the place you are when you first start your computer). In the lower left corner of the screen select the Start button and then choose Programs All Programs in XP). Next you want to select Accessories and then select the System Tools. The final selection is Disk Defragmenter.

In Windows 95, 98 and ME a window will appear with the title Select Drive if you only have one drive in your computer simply select OK for the process to begin. If you notice the Percent Complete continually restarts back at zero you should turn off any antivirus programs running as well as anything else that is running in the background. To stop the bulk of these items look in the lower right corner of your screen where your clock is located. With the Right mouse button click on one item at a time and choose Exit or Close from the menu that appears. Now restart the defragmentation program and see how it goes. When the system has finished defragmenting a Yes No choice will appear. If you have several hard drives or partitions to defragment select No and then choose the different drives from the right of the drop down menu that shows C: by default. Otherwise select Yes to complete the process.

If you have Windows 2000 or either version of XP the screen will open up much different than in earlier versions. Never fear this is a far more adept defrag program. The display will list all drives available. Simply highlight the one you want to defragment and then choose Defragment from the lower left of the display. Do not worry about the Analyze button; this is done as part of the defragmentation process. Sit back and watch the progress. The more red color you see the more your drive is fragmented. If you see lots of red, go and eat supper or cut the lawn, this could take a while. When the process is complete you can choose to View Report or Close. Go ahead and View the report to see how bad off your system was by scrolling down through the Volume Information. You will not need to worry about other processes restarting the defragmentation process in Windows 2000 or XP.