Windows XP / Beginners

Defragmenting Your Drive

Fragmentation is everything when it comes to maintaining your hard drive. Over time, as your hard drive fills up and you install and uninstall programs and games, the files on your hard drive can become fragmented, as Windows has to find open spots on your hard drive to place the file. Often the file is broken up into thousands of little pieces and scattered all over the hard drive. This cannot cause any significant problems for your computer, but it can cause a noticeable performance slowdown, which can be easily cured by running a software program known as a defragmenter.

Defragmenters do a very simple task of just moving the bits of the files around on the hard drives so that they are all placed together. This arrangement allows the hard drive to load a file faster because the head, which is the arm that reads the data off the plates inside the drive, does not have to scatter all over the place to read the data.

Using several utilities to defragment the boot files. The same utilities can be used to defragment the whole drive as well as the special files. This next section will concentrate on two of those special files because defragmenting the whole drive is done at the same time.

Defragmenting the Windows paging file

The Windows paging file can be quite large, as you know from the previous sections. Once you have created a constant size paging file, or if you just want to defragment the paging file, you can defragment the file during the next system boot.Windows will not allow any program to move the paging file around on the hard drive when the operating system is in use. The main reason why Windows does not allow this is because other programs are running in the background as well as operating system services that will depend on the paging file. This is why the defragmentation can only be done during the boot, because very few files are in use then.

The built-in Windows XP defragmenter does not defragment the paging file during a normal defrag. Microsoft has a workaround for this limitation. It tells users to do a normal defrag first, then after the free space is consolidated, to delete the paging file by disabling it and then recreating it right after a fresh defrag. Doing so will cause the operating system to create one big, continuous file on the hard drive.

There is nothing wrong with Microsoft's approach, since it will accomplish the task, but there is an easier way to do this. If you have not already done so, you download the disk defragmenter utility called Diskeeper, by Executive Software ( All you have to do in order to defragment the paging file is to run a boot defrag. By default, the option to defragment the paging file is already set. If you do not remember how to do a boot defrag and review the step-by-step instructions in the section Boot time system defrag with Diskeeper.

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