When you first install Windows, all the files are written in a sequence, together on the hard drive. When you add more files – documents, music, photos – this process continues. But when you delete files, gaps are left in this neat sequence, which Windows fills whenever it can, to write a new file which will fit. Sometimes it has to split files into pieces to fill these small gaps, and over time this means that newer files are scattered across the drive, meaning more work to load large programs or a whole photo album.
This process is called fragmentation, and causes PCs to slow down, makes it harder to save lost data, and can shorten the life of components.
What you need is something to defragment, or ‘defrag’ your hard drives to keep them in peak condition.
Enter Windows Defrag
Microsoft operating systems have included built-in ‘disk defragmenter’ tools since the days of MS-DOS, and as disks get bigger their function has become ever more important.
Launching the tool depends very much on which version of Windows you’re using, but here are a few guides to get you defragging in the quickest time possible, from the horse’s mouth so to speak:
Other Defrag Tools
You don’t have to be stuck with the Windows defrag tool to put your disks in order. Third party tools can be faster and do a more thorough job. Here are a couple which are highly recommended (but of course, just choose one!):
O&O Defrag: quick utility with lots of options for scanning and scheduling, and also works in the background – you may never have to run a full defrag again! There’s also a Family Edition if you want to run it across more than one PC.
System Mechanic by Iolo: if you want a fully-featured suite which takes care of defragging duties, plus many more optimisation tools, then System Mechanic is the all-in-one you need. It can also defrag and optimise the Windows Registry, and a unique advanced defrag-like tool called the Program Accelerator, which is even more effective than a standard defrag tool.