How to Defrag Your Hard Drive Properly By Liz Cornwell 11 May 2011 in Defragmentation

How to Defrag?
For the average computer user, defragmenting the hard drive is something that your tech support does when you call up with a problem. Home PCs that are only used for a short time per day can go a long time without being defragmented. but you'll certainly notice the number of times you tap your finger while waiting for a program to open increasing! Even users familiar with defragging the hard drive sometimes aren't aware of the proper steps to take to ensure the job gets done the way it should - we go through them here. Why is defragging necessary? In the normal course of using your computer - installing and uninstalling programs, creating documents and deleting old documents, viewing internet pages, etc - the files that your computer uses to get jobs done become scattered in different physical locations across the hard disk. In other words, they become fragmented. The next time you request a task that uses the fragmented files, the computer has to go searching for them - they aren't where they're meant to be. If you've ever said "Darn that man/woman, s/he's always moving my keys!", then take pity on your computer and defrag your hard drive properly!

How to defrag properly
Even if you do run the defrag utility that comes with Windows regularly, chances are that you don't know how to defrag the textbook way. We'll show you how. Delete any unwanted files. This will both speed up the defrag utility, and help improve your computer's performance in general. Clear the history and cache of every browser that you regularly use. Empty your Recycle Bin. Use the Disk Cleanup utility included with both Windows XP and Vista to remove any unneeded files. Alternatively, use a third party program like the one included in Auslogics BoostSpeed. Use a disk check (Chkdsk) utility to repair disk errors and fix other common problems before defrag. Create a backup of your system, either by making a disaster recovery disk or backing up to external hard drive. Create a System Restore Point through Windows System Tools before running the defrag. Disable Windows Pagefile before you defrag your hard drive. Go to Control Panel -> System -> Advanced. Look for the Performance tab, and then click on the Settings button. Go to the Advanced tab, and click Change under the heading Virtual Memory. Select the option for No paging file, and click Set.

Now you can close any open programs, disconnect from the Internet so that things don't try to automatically update, and run either the built in Windows utility, or your third-party software of choice. To access the built in Windows defragmenter you'll need to click on the Start button and go to All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Disk Defragmenter. Then select the drives you want to defragment and click OK. When defragmentation is finished, you will need to re-enable the paging file. To do that, simply follow the steps described above to access the Virtual Memory settings and specify the size of your paging file. System managed size is recommended.

Third party options to defrag your hard drive
There are quite a lot of third-party programs that can perform your defrag quicker and with increased capability (for example, defragging the System files that Windows won't touch). Here are some popular options:

Auslogics Disk Defrag, rated 5 stars by CNet editors, is a compact and fast freeware utility, supplied with advanced disk optimization techniques.
MyDefrag is a disk defragmenter and optimizer for Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000, 2003, 2008.
Defraggler is a compact and portable Windows application that supports NTFS and FAT32 file systems.
These simple tips will help you speed up computer performance, so that you can enjoy that new PC feel again.

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