Join Laura Bungarz for an in-depth discussion in this video What is defragmenting?, part of Speeding Up Your Home PC for Beginners.
Voiceover: One of the ways we can speed up the computer is through a process called disk defragmentation. For those of you that aren't familiar with this process, I'm going to go ahead and explain what that is. Think of your hard drive as graph paper. You know what graph paper looks like, it's just a bunch of little squares. As you use your computer, the squares on the graph paper start to fill up, you start to color them in. So, you're adding software, you're putting your files, you're putting the pictures of the kids on there.
Those squares start to fill up. So, what happens over time as you use the computer is that the squares start to spread out, and that information on that hard drive starts to spread out. So, you can think of it like the piles of paper on your desk at work, and the more you route through those piles, the farther those files seem to spread. So, that's what happens on your hard drive. You're moving the information around, you're deleting information, you're adding new stuff, you're doing things, and the information will spread out.
That process eventually slows down the computer, just as it would you if you had piles of paper on your desk and they were all over the place, it would slow you down. It would take you longer to find something, and the same is true of the computer. So, what defragmenting does is it organizes those squares the same as you would if you were grabbing all the piles of paper and sorting through them, and throwing out the stuff you didn't need and moving it around, and alphabetizing it, or organizing it by color or whatever it was you were doing, that speeds up the process. The more organized you are, the faster things happen for you.
So, your hard drive is now faster. Some tips, though, with defrag. If you haven't done it before, it can take a really, really long time, and I'm talking eight to 12 hours. Be prepared to do this before you go to bed, plug in your laptop, it will drain your battery. Don't try to do this on battery power. Turn off any screensavers, power savers, anything you might have going on. Make sure most of the processes on the computer are off. You don't need Skype running in the background. You don't need any of that going on, turn it all off.
If you use your computer all the time, run it once a week. If you're not in front of your computer as often, you may not need to do it as often, you may get away with even once a month But, if you're like me, you're in front of the computer eight hours a day, you're going to want to do it regularly. There are scheduling functions that we're going to talk about that will do it for you automatically as long as you leave your computer on, basically. So, now we'll get into the process of how to actually defragment.
- Cleaning the desktop
- Organizing files with folders
- Using Disk Cleanup, msconfig, and Disk Defragmenter
- Freeing up disk space
- Buying and installing RAM
- Upgrading your computer