At least once a week.
Every time you use your computer, you are opening, closing, creating, and erasing files. Don't tell me you don't do that! You do! Maybe you don't do it overtly, but every time you start a program, send email, browse the internet, or almost anything else, you are opening, closing, creating, and erasing files. That's what computers do, even when you think they are doing other things. See The FishNose Universal Unified Theory of Everything. So, what does this mean to me? Well, I'm glad you asked.
Buy any CDs lately? I know this doesn't seem related, but it is (sort of). Do you have a CD storage cabinet, rack, shelf, or bin? Do you just fling them on the floor? Well, if you store your CDs in any organized fashion you have a defragmentation problem. Let's take a look: You buy a new Bangles CD (well, somebody has to). If you keep your CD collection in alphabetical order, you would probably want to file this under "B" for Bangles. So, Abba and America can stay where they are, but you have to move The Cars through Andreas Vollenweider down one notch to make room for the Bangles. Anyway, this takes a lot of shuffling to put everything in order.
Then, you left your Richie Havens CD on the dashboard of your car in the summer sun. You now have a Richie Havens piece of bent sculpture instead of a CD. You didn't like it much anyway, so you now have to move Grateful Dead through Andreas Vollenweider back up one notch to fill in the gap left by the deceased Havens CD. See what I'm getting at - a lot of shuffling going on.
What your computer does is unthinkable by any self-respecting anal-retentive. If the computer were using our CD example and you get a new CD (file) it puts it in the first open slot it can find in your CD rack (hard disk). Your new Abba CD just went in after Andreas Vollenweider. This is terrible! The computer will never rearrange them in alphabetical order until you tell it to "Defragment". Meanwhile, every time you tell it to look for Abba, it has to look all over the place (not exactly, but mostly). This slows things down considerably.
Things are actually worse than this on a computer, because it will put pieces of a file wherever they fit. In any case, every time you have to create, save, open, or read from a file on a fragmented disk, it will take noticeably longer than if the disk were not fragmented.
Again, as with almost everything in Windows, there is more than one way to accomplish the task at hand. Different people find each way a little more intuitive, easier, or less rancid. Take your pick, just do it!
Windows NT users note: Windows NT does not come with a defragmentation tool built in. If you have a 3rd party defragmenter installed, you must run it according to their instructions. Don't try any of the stuff below or small bats will visit you in the middle of the night and make a nest in your pajamas.
Before you begin either method below, you should take the following steps:
Then begin --
However you got there, Defrag will first tell you that it is "Examining drive C:". After a brief delay (sometimes not so brief), it will inevitably declare that "Drive C: is 0% (or some very low number) fragmented", and that the disk does not need to be defragmented. Kakka doodie! They lie! What this message may be telling you is that your files have very little fragmentation. This percentage does not report how much of the free space on the drive is fragmented. It is the free space fragmentation which will lead to file fragmentation in the near future.
No matter what this message says, or how cunningly it tries to trick you into quitting at this point, immediately click the "Start" button to begin defragmenting anyway.
Defrag will now begin the critical "boring" phase of the program. If you want to see a little more exciting screen activity, click the "Show Details" button. It will at least keep you amused for a couple of minutes longer than the other display. It's sort of like watching the computer play "Breakout" with itself. If you don't remember Breakout, don't worry. It was a stupid game anyway.
Be aware that Defrag can take even longer that ScanDisk. Once again, depending on the size of your hard drive, the speed of the computer, how long ago you last ran Defrag, and how badly fragmented the disk is, it can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 hours. If this is the first time you have ever run Defrag, send out for lunch. If you run Defrag at least once a week, it will take considerably less time.
When Defrag finishes, it will (brilliantly) ask you if you want to quit the program. I would recommend this strongly.
You are now free to repopulate your hard drive with tons of junque, etc.
Every precaution has been taken to insure that the procedures presented here will not cause damage to your computer system. However, Mind Over Machines Inc. will not be responsible for any damage caused directly or indirectly by any advice and/or procedures given anywhere on this web site. Likewise, we cannot be responsible for malfunctions caused by defective hardware, or unforeseen problems which arise from use of the standard Microsoft tools. If problems do arise, we may attempt to assist in the diagnosis and eventual remedy, but cannot be held liable or bound to do so.
Contents Copyright (c) 19992004, Mind Over Machines Inc.
Page last updated 08/28/04.