Why and how to defragment your hard drive

Over time, the fixed disk on a computer becomes fragmented. Fragmentation is where related information is scatter over the disk, requiring numerous head movements and causing the computer to slow down. It can also cause the computer not to shut down properly, or to hang when you try to shut down. When it gets to that point, it's time to format the drive and reinstall the operating system. All data will be lost!

To avoid that situation, you should defragment your C drive about twice a year. To start a defragmentation, go to "My Computer", right mouse click on the C drive, left mouse click on "Properties", select the "Tools" tab. The last item is "Defragment Now" - click on it, then click "Analyze". Windows will indicate whether or not your drive needs defragmentation. If it does need defragmentation, do it by just clicking on the defragment button. If it does not, check again in six months.

If Defragment hangs or if the drive is still fragmented after you defragment: Try doing a Scandisk - the first item on the tools tab - sometimes called "Error Checking". When it starts, be sure to check "Automatically Fix Errors". If Scandisk cannot complete it means that you have a corrupt file system. This can lead to numerous problems, and must be fixed, or eventually your computer may not start.

The defragment program in Windows is not very good. There are many situations where it cannot defragment a drive. Fortunately, there are after market defragmenters available.

Diskeeper is a recommended after market program. Be sure to get the right version for your operating system. If the Windows defragmenter will not fix disk problems, Diskeeper probably will.

If Diskeeper will not solve the problem, it's time to reformat your disk, and re-install your operating system. You will loose all your data, so be sure to back it up before reformating. If you order Diskeeper, please note there are different versions. You will need to order the version applicable to your operating system.