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Keeping Windows alive – part 2

Now that we’re done talking about disk cleanup, it’s time to discuss disk defragmentation

Disk Defragment

Disks are always partitioned to those small pieces we call “Allocation Units” when reformatting them. This means that the disk is cut into small pieces with specific size for each piece. So when a file is written on that disk it’ll be stored into 1 or more of those unit depending on it’s size. The larger the unit is the less files you can store in it and the smaller it is the longer it’ll take for your file to be located. We’re talking about milliseconds not that much time. But when a large file -larger than a single unit – is written on the disk the OS will allocate as much units as necessary, and that’s were the problem begins. Sometimes a file is written into distant units so when reading it, the disk will take more time, and that’s what we call a “fragmented file”. Of course there are expensive brands of disks that do not allow fragmentation of a file but in case you don’t have one of those you can ask Windows or AusLogics for help.

Basically a defragmenter is an application that tries to keep file fragments as close to each other as possible, this operation might require some files to be move on the physical disk – you’re files will be in the same place you left them”

You can use the “Disk Defragmenter” that comes with Windows by opening it from the “Accessories==>System Tools” menu or by typing “dfrg.msc” in the run dialog.

In “Disk Defragmenter” window you’ll get a list of all your disks, select any of them and click on “Analyze” – Keep in mind that disks with less than “25%” free space are tough to handle – Windows will do some work and will then show a message telling you wether you have to Defragment that disk or not. If you click the “View Report” button a small dialog with the list of fragmented files if any will popup. If you decided to Defragment that disk windows will show you the estimated disk usage before and after the process, of course it’ll keep you up to date during the process.

After the whole operation is done you might notice that there are some files left undergarmented. And that’s because they are either too big for the Defragmenter to handle or are being used by the system and hence cannot be moved.

When you’re done with disk Defragment there is no need to reboot the computer but I like doing it.

Microsoft Disk Defragmenter is a very solid tool to keep your disks in shape, but I’ve noticed this free application called “Auslogics Disk Defrag”. A highly decorated application by the CNet review team. This application is very straight forward. Just install it, start it, pick a disk and off you go. When you’re done you can view a report of what’s changed on your disk or you might just take a look at the 2 bars showing the improvement in your disk performance.