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Subject: Defragmenting your Hard Drive

Date: 15/June/2001 (updated 25/January/2004)

Ray Stankewitz

I would guess that the biggest performance gain you could do to your computer after you have set it up and ran the snot out of it for a few months is to defragment your hard drive. The reason for this is that Windows is not very good at placing data on your hard drive. As you use programs on your computer, information is read from the drive and written back to the drive. Instead of being put back on the drive in an orderly fashion, it is just put here and there. This causes the "Fragmentation" of the drive.

The end result is that when you are requesting data, Windows has to search all over the drive to find it, causing a 'slow-down' on your system. Are you still with me?

The method to rectify this situation is to defragment your Hard Drive. How is this done? It is a 2 step method. The first step is to run Scandisk. You have no doubt seen the DOS version of Scandisk if you have shut down hard and restarted. The Windows© version is more powerful and you need to run it first before you defrag.

The routine is like this-go to Start-Programs-Accessories-System Tools-ScanDisk.

Click HERE For a screen capture showing menu hierarchy.

Click on ScanDisk and it will bring up a dialog window that looks like this:

Click HERE For an image of the dialogue box.

You will then select the drive that you want to run ScanDisk on, being sure to check Standard type of scan and be sure that Automatically Fix Errors is NOT checked. Then go ahead and click Start. Let ScanDisk do it's thing and when it is done you can go on to the next step.

Two things-be sure to turn off anything that is running and be sure to disable any Screensaver that you may be running. trust me-ScanDisk will continue to restart continually. And no, Virginia, you cannot do data processing while scandisk is running!

One of the best ways to run the utilities is to start up in "Safe Mode"-this will not let any of the things that will cause problems to start up. This is done by holding down the F8 key on most computers while you are starting your computer. If you are not sure of this, consult your owners manual. What?-you don't have a manual? Drop me an e-mail and I will see if I can get some info for you.

Now that you have run ScanDisk, it is time to run Defragmenter. This is done by going to Start-Programs-Accessories-System Tools-Defragmenter. It will bring up a dialog box for you.

Click HERE for a picture of the dialogue box.

You should check the "C" drive, and use the default settings. The settings window looks like this:

Click HERE To see what that looks like.

If you have multiple drives or a partitioned drive(s), you will have to repeat this process on each drive. You shouldn't try this on floppies or Zip 100/250 drives or Jaz Drives. For some reason, this just has a negative effect on them. It could be that there is no swap space on them to use for the process. If you have a dedicated "Swap File" partition on a partitioned drive, you don't need to do that partiton.

I would like to add that if you have Win 95 or 98/98se, try to find and download WinME_defrag.exe to replace your original defrag program. It works 1000% better and you will see the difference in performance!

If you want to watch the program run, click the "Show Details" button. Now go make yourself a cup of hot chocolate and wait for it to do it's thing. If you haven't done this in a while, it will be some time before you are done. Remember that you cannot do anything on the computer until this is done, so plan on doing this during a time you don't need to check your e-mail. When you are finished, restart your computer and get ready to enjoy better performance on your system.

If you have any questions about this article, feel free to E-mail Me.

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