Using the Defrag Utility
Managing your storage systems properly can have a dramatic effect on how fast your computer operates, as well as maximize your storage space. When a PC stores files on a hard disk drive (hdd), it checks that file to determine how much space it will require. With this information, your PC tries to find space on your hdd that can store that file in its entirety. If your PC can't fit the file in a contiguous location, it will break the file into segments and make a note about the fragments for when it needs to retreive that file.
As your hdd fills up, the number of fragments increase. This creates a performance bottleneck when you open a file that is fragmented because the hdd has to get the file from many different locations. Defragmenting your hard drive tries to solve this problem by rearranging your files into contiguous areas.
Before starting the defrag process you should close all open programs as this will help speed up the process, this includes disconnecting from the internet. Be sure to turn of your anti-virus program and disable your screensaver if running. Defrag can be quite lengthy on todays large hard drives. Also keep in mind that defrag needs some additional space to use as a temporary holding place while rearranging files. This would be a good time to delete any unwanted programs, empty the recycle bin, clear out temp files. flush your internet cache, delete pictures you no longer need, etc.
The defrag process is very similar in most flavors of Windows. The 2 examples I will use here are for Win 9x & Win XP, to get to the defrag utility in both types of systems, click:
Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Defragmenter
In Win XP you will end up with a screen similar to this one. In this example, I have decided to defrag the C drive and clicked on the analyze button to see how fragmented this particular drive is. Many times in XP, the program will tell you that it does not need to defrag the drive it has analyzed, but you should defrag it anyhow.
Just click on the Defrag button and take a little break, the program will let you know when it has finished and you can continue with another drive on your system or quit the utility.
In Win 98, the process is very much the same only this is the screen you will first see.
Now select the drive that you wish to defragment by clicking on it, in this case it will be drive E. Now click on the settings button and you will be presented with this screen. These are the settings most commonly used and are perfectly fine.
Now click on OK and away you go, this screen shows how the process is proceeding and will let you know when it is done. You can then chose to quit the utility or chose another drive to defragment.
Happy Defragmenting, Alakazam