This week we have the final posting in House Cleaning for the Not So Geek. You should have already cleaned up your computer (inside and out http://kotoritechnologies.com/blog/post/2009/09/25/Tips-for-the-Digital-Pack-Rat.aspx and http://kotoritechnologies.com/blog/post/2009/10/01/Computer-Cleaning-for-the-Not-So-Geek.aspx ) and backed up your files. Now it is time for the defrag. This will help to increase your computer performance.
This is also a very important step in computer maintenance because it can extend the life of your PC.
You may be asking What is defrag? or Why do I need to Defragment?
The answer is: Your computer is sort of like a newspaper. Your computer files can start on the front page and continue elsewhere in the middle of another page or file. When you use your computer, it writes to the first available spot on the hard drive. Over time, files tend to get rearranged on your hard disk, or fragmented.
If your disk is fragmented, when it tried to load a program, it may have to grab one file from the middle of the hard drive, one towards the outside, and then back to the inside. The net result is that your computer runs slower.
When you run a defrag program, it puts the pieces back together, like in a magazine article, and organizes them in similar groupings, so stuff loads faster. It's probably a good idea for the average user to defrag once every 2-3 months or so.
Warning - Be careful when running defrag. First off, it takes a long time (I usually run it at night) to defragment a large hard drive (80Gig or higher). Also, the defrag program takes files off your hard drive and sticks them into your system RAM while it's reorganizing your disk. If you lose power during a disk defragmentation, it can spell disaster for your computer. At best you'll mess up a program or two and at worst you may no longer be able to access your hard drive and Windows. I suggest backing up your files before starting, (see http://kotoritechnologies.com/blog/post/2009/10/02/Save-It-Before-Youe-Need-It.aspx). Definitely not something to do during a thunderstorm!
How do you perform a defrag? Simple make sure you have backed up your files. You may need to disable your antivirus software and close out of all applications.
First, you need to run Scandisk.
Windows 95/98/ME Users: Click on the Start Menu then select Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and then Scandisk. Select the drive you would like to check, then select the type of test you would like to run (standard or thorough). Finally, click Start.
Windows NT/2000XP Users: Double click your My Computer icon. Right click on the C: drive. Select Properties then choose the Tools tab. Under Error Checking, click the Check Now button. A dialog box will pop up, check both check boxes and click Start.
A dialog box will pop up telling you, "The disk check could not be performed because exclusive access to the drive could not be obtained. Do you want this disk check to be scheduled the next time you restart the computer?" click yes'
Second step is to start the defrag.
Click on the Start menu, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and select the Disk Defragmenter. Select/highlight the drive you want to defrag and click Defragment.
Another easy way to find any program is to use the search field on the Start Menu.
For best results, perform a computer cleanup (see http://kotoritechnologies.com/blog/post/2009/09/25/Tips-for-the-Digital-Pack-Rat.aspx ) before starting the defrag.