How to Defrag A Hard Drive

What Does Defrag Mean?

You add and delete files from your hard drive on a regular basis. This is a normal operation. However, what you may not know is doing these activities can severely slow your computer down. How? Well, when you delete a file from your hard drive, it frees up a block of space. When you add a file (either by creating one or copying one), that block of space may not be big enough for this file to fit. As a result, the computer will put part of the file in the newly acquired block of free space and the rest in another block. Now your newly added file is what’s called fragmented. Fragmented files are what causes the computer to slow down. The reason for this is because each fragment of a file has the address of the next fragment. Therefore, when the hard drive reads the file, it finds the first fragment and reads it into memory. It sees the address of the next fragment, goes to that address and reads the second fragment into memory. This process continues until all the fragments are put back together. You can see how this would take much longer than if the file was put in a space big enough to hold the entire file.

Defragging a hard drive simply means rearranging the files on the hard drive so they’re not fragmented. In other words, the files are put back together, making the hard drive search routine faster. Fortunately, the people at Microsoft created a program that comes with Windows. This program is called Disk Defragmenter.

Using Disk Defragmenter

Using this program is really simple. Follow these steps to start Disk Defragmenter:
1. Click Start
2. Click All Programs
3. Find and click Accessories
4. Click System Tools
5. Click Disk Defragmenter

Note that if you’re using Windows XP, you just put your mouse over everything. You don’t have to click anything except Start and Disk Defragmenter.

Once you’re in the program you should click the Analyze (or Analyze Disk in Windows 7) button. This will inspect the hard drive to see if it needs to be defragged. A message will pop up indicating whether or not you should defrag. If it recommends defragging, click the Defragment (or Defragment disk in windows 7) button. The computer does the rest. When it’s finished, just hit the close button on the upper right (The one with the X) to close the program.

One important thing you should know is that defragging is not a quick process. It depends on how fast your computer is, but even the fastest computers can take a while. With that said, it’s better to let the computer do its thing during this process. Trying to do anything else on the computer during this process will slow it down even more.

When the process is done, you should notice a difference in speed. It’s best if you take time once a month to defrag. This will help keep the computer faster. See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

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