Dwight Watt - Newspaper article #25 9/16/2009

Question: What is disk defragmenting? How do I do it?

Answer: Defragmentation is the process of removing file fragments from your disk.

Fragmentation is when the files on the disk are scatter across the disk and split in different sections. An example of fragmentation we can all relate to is mall parking lots in December. When the mall opens in the morning it is easy to find a parking space as all the empty spaces are together. If we arrive in several cars we can all park together. The lot is defragmented at that point. As the day goes by people arrive and leave and it begins to get hard to find a place to park, you drive up and down rows and finally find one. If you arrive in several cars you have to park a different spots and then get together to shop. The lot is fragmented. If we could defragment the lot the mall would go out and move all the cars together either all near the door or at far spots so new people can be by door. They would tell us all where our car is now. Now people arriving would find a space quickly and groups would again be together. The lot is defragmented. The disk works the same as the lot and the files are like cars or groups of cars.

Most people using Windows XP and Vista and 7 have an NTFS file system which does some defragmenting automatically. However if your system is getting slow or every few months defragment it yourself.

Click on My Computer or Computer. Right click on your hard drive (usually C) and choose Properties. Choose the Tools tab. Choose Defragment Now. (If Defragmentation is not an option, it was not included on your version, there are free defragmentation programs available on the Internet or SpeedDisk in Norton Utilities or other utility programs you can buy will include a defragmentation program.) Choose Defragment Disk. You can do Analyze. Even if Windows says defragmentation is not needed, look at details and if file fragmentation is greater than 5%, defragment and you will probably see a faster machine. In some cases when you choose Defragment Now it will say it needs to wait to restart. Tel it to schedule at start, just realize you will have a longer startup and see a light blue screen as it does it. In XP it can be interesting to look at details while defragmenting and watch it move the files around. Some files cannot be moved and will be shown in a different color. Think of them like handicap spaces in parking lot, they always get closest spaces to the door.

(c) 2009 by Dwight Watt
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