Many folks and businesses alike buy their computers and run them thinking there is no maintenance to be done - and those that think that way are in for a big surprise as their computer gets slower and slower from lack of some simple maintenance.
In the cases where maintenance has not been performed on the computer in a long time or rarely - it can take an extended period of time to straighten it out if the computer has not gotten to the point of crashing due to the lack of maintenance.
Among many aspects of maintenance is updating anti-spyware, anti-virus, and firewall software - but that is to just keep out malicious attacks or identity theft risks.
One of the easiest and most commonly over looked and neglected maintenance operations that one can do is to defragment the hard disk drive and do it on regular basis.
Why do you need to defragment your hard disk drive?
The answer is that when a computer writes to a hard disk drive it does so placing your data, programs, etc. randomly in empty spots on the drive. The computer may literally spread one single program or even a photo over dozens of spots on the hard disk drive. Then when your computer goes to retrieve that data, program, or whatever - the computer must jump from spot to spot searching and retrieving each piece of that data, program, etc. to get the whole.
what is fragmentation?
Disk fragmentation occurs when a file is broken up into pieces to fit on the disk. Because files are constantly being written, deleted and resized, fragmentation is a natural occurrence. When a file is spread out over several locations, it takes longer to read and write. But the effects of fragmentation are far more widespread: Slow performance, long boot-times, random crashes and freeze-ups — even a complete inability to boot up at all. Many users blame these problems on the operating systems, when disk fragmentation is often the real culprit.
All systems suffer from disk fragmentation. Diskeeper (see below) solves this problem and keeps PCs humming at their peak performance.
Not only does this process dramatically slow down the computer from the users perspective, it makes the computer work harder and cause more wear on the hard disk drive itself which can lead to premature end of life of the drive. Furthermore, each piece or fragment has a "link" to the next piece or fragment and when the drive accumulates millions of these links - the loss of one link can lead to total system failure.
To help with this problem all versions of Windows since Windows 3.1 and possibly before come with a defrag utility. This free utility will defrag the hard disk drive to some extent helping to keep performance but it does not compare to some of the commercial products available for doing this same task. This would be like comparing a Chevy Chevette to a BMW as far as performance and actual defragging itself is concerned.
Myth No. 1: The 'built-in' defragmenter that comes with Windows is good enough.
This statement would be true if the built-in defragmenter was fast, automatic, and customizable. Unfortunately, the built-in defragmenter does not have any of these features.
Fast Defrag: The built-in defragmenter takes many minutes to hours to run. Diskeeper completes its work in seconds to a few minutes.
Automatic Defrag: The built-in defragmenter requires that you keep track of fragmentation levels, you determine when performance has gotten so bad you have to do something about it, and then you manually defragment each drive using the built-in defragmentation tool. Diskeeper does all of this for you automatically. That's why millions of very happy customers call it "the Set It and Forget It" defragmenter. You have better things to do with your time than defragmenting disk drives.
Customizable: With the built-in defragmenter, you take what you are given. (Hey, it's free. Stop complaining.) With Diskeeper, you get a defragmenter that will do everything for you automatically (and we do mean everything) or you can tailor its operation to suit your precise needs. And at Diskeeper Corporation, customer service is our number one priority. When you talk, we listen.
What's happening to your computer when you fall behind on defragmenting?
Many people don't realize how much of their computer's power is lost to fragmentation and how soon it happens. The graph below is the result of a two week experiment we did using only Microsoft Internet Explorer and Microsoft Word. We performed the test using an ordinary desktop computer, not a file server.
Note that each test starts with zero excess file fragments. That means that each line represents the fragments generated from the recently created or modified files; in other words, these are files that were used and fragmented THAT DAY. These recent files are the ones you least want to be slow to access. These are the ones you want to get at fast!
You don't wait until you car is spewing blue smoke and the engine is rattling before you change your oil. Don't wait for your computer to slow down or grind to a halt before defragmenting. Install Diskeeper and keep your computer performing at peak all the time.
If you are like us whom do not want to go through the trouble to manually defrag and want top performance or prefer to have this done automatically and thoroughly, we recommend Diskeeper for defragmenting maintenance:
To launch the free defrag utility on your computer, which should be done at least once a month or more - in Windows XP and the like go to Start–>Programs–>Accessories–>System Tools–>Defrag and this will start the defrag utility. If you have more then one hard disk drive it will be necessary to defrag each of them individually or one at a time. If it is the first time you perform this task, it may take hours to complete. The more often you defrag the less time it takes due to less fragmentations.