Tip of the week: Windows Edition

Posted by Minnaar Pieters 19 Feb 2009
One of the pains of hard drives is the fragmentation of files. If left unattended, your hard drive can become very fragmented which results in much lower performance. Here is a simple graphic that explains how fragmentation occurs, and how a defragmenter fixes it:

Fragmentation occurs when the operating system cannot or will not
allocate enough contiguous space to store a complete file as a unit,
but instead puts parts of it in gaps between other files (usually those
gaps exist because they formerly held a file that the operating system
has subsequently deleted or because the operating system allocated
excess space for the file in the first place). Larger files and greater
numbers of files also contribute to fragmentation and consequent
performance loss. (Wikipedia, 2009) The supplied defragmenter with Windows is simply abysmal. It is slow, not very effective and the user has not feedback on what exactly is happening on the drive.

The best defragmenter is still Diskeeper. It does small things like changing the drive layout so that files that need high performance is moved to a high speed area of the drive, and small files that need faster random access to the inner sectors of the drive. But you have to pay for it. So for people who need the highest performance from their drives like server admins and video editors, Diskeeper is a great buy.

But not everyone wants to spend money on this type of software. The best free version I came across is Defraggler. This software enables a user to very quickly defragment specific files and folders, something that the windows supplied defragmenter cant do. Or of course defrag the drive completely, just like all other defragmenters.

My Tip: A very quick way to defragment your drive is to first analyse the disk, click on file list, arrange the files so that the most fragmented files are on top. Then click the tickbox next to filename (which then automatically ticks all the boxes for you). This is surprisingly quick and even faster than Diskeeper.

Now if someone can just write a free defragmenter for Mac OS X!

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I am a R&D Analyst in Stellenbosch South Africa who has a immense passion for all things tech related. I embrace technology, open source and web standards, and I participate and contribute to the social web.