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Windows 7 - How to Defragment Your Hard Drive

Defragmenting your computer's hard drive is something that should be done on a regular basis to keep it running up to scratch. The reason for this is that the data stored on your computer becomes fragmented over time. When new programs are installed and new files are created on your computer, the data is spread across the physical hard drive. This means that, to read the file, the hard disk needs to look all over the physical disk to find the necessary data. Once a hard disk has been defragmented, all of the data will be stored contiguously. This means that the moving parts of the hard drive have to work a lot less to read a file. This can speed up performance considerably. After defragmenting a severely fragmented hard drive, you'll notice that loading times are faster and Windows starts up quicker.

All hard disks except for solid state drives should be defragmented regularly. Solid state drives are sometimes found in extremely high-end machines. The reason that they don't need defragmenting is that they have no moving parts.

Windows 7 provides a few new options and improvements over the greatly simplified Disk Defragmenter program in Windows Vista. It's also faster than its predecessors.

Start Disk Defragmenter from Start Menu > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools.

If your computer is turned on most of the time, you may want to schedule defragmenting to take place automatically. You can do this by clicking "Turn on schedule" and choosing the time and frequency that you want Windows to defragment the disk.

If you haven't run Disk Defragmenter before, you're hard disk will likely be severely fragmented. This is especially the case after installing a lot of programs or installing Windows. Select the main hard disk in your computer from the list in the main window of Disk Defragmenter. This is normally the 'C' drive. Click "Analyze disk" and wait a minute or two for Windows to scan the disk. When the process is complete, it will report the fragmentation status of the disk. If it's any higher than a few per cent, you should click "Defragment disk."

The amount of time it takes to defragment a disk varies greatly. The three factors that govern how long the process takes are the size of the disk, the amount of space used and the percentage of the data which is fragmented. Severe cases can take several hours to complete, in which case you may want to leave the program running over night. If you defragment your hard drive regularly, however, it should only take a few minutes each time.


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