In my last two articles about fragmentation I explained what fragmentation is and how fragmentation occurs. But how to you fix it? In this article I will explain how to run the Disk Defragmenter program in Windows XP, which analyzes your hard drive and repairs fragmented files. To simplify matters, I have also included a video which I’ve recorded of me running through the steps I describe on my own computer.
Running Disk Defragmenter on Windows XP
To fix disk and file fragmentation on Windows XP you use a utility called a defragmenter. Though many such programs exist (some of which do a better job than others), Windows XP comes with a utility called Disk Defragmenter. This program is actually a scaled-down version of a more expensive but more powerful utility called Diskeeper 2008. In a follow-up article I will will be exploring the differences between various defragmentation programs, but for now let’s focus on getting the job done with the free tools you have available.
Locate and Run Disk Defragmenter
To run Disk Defragmenter on Windows XP, locate the program icon by clicking your Start button and going to All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and click the Disk Defragmenter icon. Alternatively you can type the command dfrg.msc into the Run window on the Start Menu. Both methods will open Disk Defragmenter.
Determining if your Drive Needs Defragmented
Most defragmentation programs will offer two simple options: Analyze and Defrag. The analyze option will look at the hard drive you have selected and tell you whether or not it actually needs to be defragmented. In the Windows XP version of Disk Defragmenter when you click Analyze it will create an image representing your hard drive, showing fragmented files in red and all other files in blue and green. When the program finishes it’s analysis it will report back and tell you wether or not you should defragment your drive.
Defragmenting your drive is as simple as opening Disk Defragmenter and clicking the Defragment button. Defragmentation can take a lot of time and will slow down your computer until it is completed, so it’s wise to choose a time when you won’t need your computer for at least an hour.