How to Defragment the Hard Drive?

One way to keep your computer system healthy is to de-fragment its hard drive. It helps boost the performance of the computer. De-fragmenting is just a simple thing to do.


Before discussing the process of de-fragmentation, let us learn first about fragmentation. It is the condition that happens when the operating system breaks a file into pieces. This might be due to not enough space in the storage device where the file was saved originally. For example, you modified a file which was saved and it became larger than its original size. Thus, it cannot be contained in its original physical space. The operating system then breaks the file into two or more pieces but stores these into different storage areas. Automatically, the system saves a record of the areas where the file fragments are stored. The file system it uses is either NTFS or FAT (File Allocation Table). These file systems are like libraries that keep many various files and documents. If the saved file is needed, the operating system will ask the file system about the whereabouts of the fragmented file. The scanning process in the file system plus the reunitingof the fragmented file pieces into its one original file is called defragmentation.


The process of defragmentation is sometimes time consuming. However, it is commonly used because it is an easy step to enhance the operation of the computer system. Thus, you need to have ample time before starting the process. It may last 30 minutes or even a few hours depending on the frequency of usage of the computer from the last completed defrag.


Here are the steps in defragmentation:

  1. First, close all running applications, even constantly running programs such as anti-virus utilities and screen savers. You may use the command Ctrl+Alt+Delete to check on any running application. Click on the running file and click "End Task" at the bottom to close it.
  2. Click and open the "Start" menu.
  3. Browse through "Programs," then through "Accessories," to "System Tools," and lastly, "Disk Defragmenter."
  4. The Select Drive will appear. Click "Settings."
  5. Select both "Check the drive for errors" and "Rearrange program files so my programs start faster."
  6. Choose which drive to defrag from the pull down menu and press "OK."
  7. Highlight which drive you want to defrag by doing a left click on the drive. Press "Analyze" to determine if the drive needs defrag or not.
  8. If it indicates that the drive needs defragging, click "Defragment." Once pressed, the defrag operation starts and it may take 30 minutes or more to complete the process. It depends on the drive size.
  9. If the defrag utility can't defrag your chosen drive and says there is an error, run the Scandisk utility. You can do this by clicking on the "Start" button, hovering over "Programs," then "Accessories," then "System Tools," and "Scandisk."
  10. Close the utility once the defrag process is completed.
  11. It is advisable that you run the defrag program at least once a month.
  12. Also, it is recommended that the you run it after downloading or installing new software.

Always read instructions before starting to be safe.


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