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What is Fragmentation

Imagine having the information for one of your customers was stored in several different folders in your filing cabinet (and possibly even in different drawers). It means that when you want to retrieve the information for that customer you have to go to several locations and pull all of the information out instead of just going to one (fatter) folder. If this was the case for ALL of your customers then looking up information on your customers would be a nightmare. Well this is what happens when your hard disk is fragmented. Similar information (such as your documents) may not be all stored in the same part of your hard disk due to space problems and when you want to retrieve the information the computer has to jump all over the hard disk to piece the information together. If you defragment the disk then all parts of any one document are moved so that they are all stored in the same location on the disk which makes it quicker to access the whole document.

Check Your Hard Disk for Problems

Before you defragment your disk) you should probably also check your disk for problems. Most hard disks these days are VERY reliable and seldom have problems but it doesn't hurt to check them every so often. To check your disk for problems ....
  1. Right Click on the Windows START button
  2. Choose EXPLORE from the Pop-up menu
  3. In the left hand pane of Windows Explorer look for the MY DOCUMENTS folder
  4. If the MY DOCUMENTS folder has a square with a minus sign in it [-] then click this box to close up MY DOCUMENTS
  5. Look for the MY COMPUTER folder in the left hand pane of Windows Explorer
  6. If the MY COMPUTER folder has a square with a plus sign in it [+] then click this box to open up MY COMPUTER
  7. Underneath MY COMPUTER right click on your first hard disk drive and choose PROPERTIES (Note that your hard disk should have at least 10% of it's capacity free and if it doesn't then your machine will probably run slowly)
  8. Click on the TOOLS tab at the top of the form
  9. Click on the CHECK NOW button
  10. Make sure that all boxes have ticks in them (Automatically Fix Errors and Scan for bad Sectors)
  11. Click on the START button
  12. You may be told that the disk check cannot be done now and you may be asked whether to run the check when you next restart your computer. If you are asked this then answer YES. If you are not asked this then the disk check should proceed immediately.
Windows will then check your hard disk and fix any problems that it finds which might take quite some time to complete. If the disk check starts immediately then you can continue to use your computer while this is in progress although this will slow down the check and it will slow you down as well. If the disk check is scheduled to run when you next restart your computer then it will run then and you won't be able to use the computer until the disk check has completed.

To Defragment your Hard Disk (which may speed up your computer)

  1. Right Click on the Windows START button
  2. Choose EXPLORE from the Pop-up menu
  3. In the left hand pane of Windows Explorer look for the MY DOCUMENTS folder
  4. If the MY DOCUMENTS folder has a square with a minus sign in it [-] then click this box to close up MY DOCUMENTS
  5. Look for the MY COMPUTER folder in the left hand pane of Windows Explorer
  6. If the MY COMPUTER folder has a square with a plus sign in it [+] then click this box to open up MY COMPUTER
  7. Underneath MY COMPUTER right click on your first hard disk drive and choose PROPERTIES (Note that your hard disk should have at least 10% of it's capacity free and if it doesn't then your machine will probably run slowly)
  8. Click on the TOOLS tab at the top of the form
  9. Click on the DEFRAGMENT NOW button
  10. Click on the DEFRAGMENT button
Windows will then defragment your hard disk which might take quite some time to complete. You can continue to use your computer while this is in progress although this will slow down the defragmentation and it will slow you down as well.