Still on the hunt to make my Vista load even faster (see previous posts – Faster Documents and Load Vista Faster), I got to thinking about what I used to do back in the days of Windows 95/ 98 and then I realised that I have overlooked a simple but highly effective methods to speed up the Operating System – Good Old Defrag !
What is it ? – When the computer writes information to the hard drive (your docs, apps etc.) it tries whenever possible to write it in one continuous block.
Over time, as you create and then delete documents or uninstall programs, once-filled locations are left empty and you end up with files dotted all over the disk. However, over time you delete files from your hard drive, you uninstall application and this leave gaps in the system. Nothing wrong so far. Now, you decide to save a 10 Megabyte file so the computer will start and look for that space to place that file. However, if it finds only a 7 Megabyte space, it will save 7 megabytes there and the other 3 somewhere else. So the result is that a single file may actually be stored in several places scattered all over your hard drive.
what does this mean ? It means that when you call up that 10 Megabyte file which is now stored in a couple of places; Vista needs to find all the pieces, put them together so that you can use it. this happens very quickly for one file. However, if you multiply this operation for the thousands of transactions and reading of the hard drive – it make Vista work very hard and the result – slow.
what to do ? Very simply, run the Defragging application.
what does that do ? Defragging gathers all the pieces of the files and writes them into one adjacent block. It then repeats this will all the files until the entire disk is defragmented
how do I run it ? Defrag comes with Vista (free !). To access it: simply click on Start and type Disk Defragmenter. It will come up in your list of application and now click on it.
When it loads, you will see that you can schedule this to run on a regular basis (GOOD IDEA !) and you can select which hard drives to run it (I suggest all) and you can also run it manually (Good to do for the first time so you know it’s done with no problem).
It can take a couple of minutes or hours depending on the state of your hard drive. The good news is that you don’t have to watch it, but can carry on working whilst it is chugging away.
This is a good house-keeping TIP that should be used in all versions of Windows and it will make a difference !