How to Securely Defragment Your Hard Drive
Cleaning and defragmenting your hard drive are essential, lest you destroy the efficiency and speed of your computer. The more that you delete and copy files, the more is the need for periodic maintenance. However, unless you do it carefully, you can totally mess it up and can end up losing precious data.
What Is Defragmenting: Computer hard drives store software and data equivalent to hundreds of thousands of pages long. This data is recorded sequentially when you first start copying software and data to the hard drive. However, everyone deletes software, data, and text files once in a while. Many temporary files are created and deleted regularly and their numbers is beyond imagination.
Each deleted file creates an "empty" space where other files can be written. The more the writing and deleting, the more the number of these empty spaces in between recorded spaces. When a new file is recorded, it fills up the first available slot. However, if it requires more space than when is available, the rest of it is written in another slot. This is called "file fragmentation" and eventually some large files might end up into five to ten fragments. This in turn increases the workload on memory as well as on the magnetic head because the memory has to track the complex navigation that the head needs to make, and because the head needs to move back and forth too many times to read just one file. Just imagine what would happen on playing it if a song on a cassette tape or on a CD were recorded in ten different fragments!
Reorganizing a hard drive so that each one of the files is in "one piece" each is called defragmenting. All the fragments are united into one file as much as the physical space would allow.
Preparation For Defragmenting Your Hard Drive: At least three things need to be done before you defragment the hard drive. This is because the software that does this moves almost every file into new position, and a small mistake anywhere can cause serious loss of data. While this is exceeding rare with the good defragmenting software of today, it is not wise to take chances particularly if time and data is money for you. Do the following things in order:
- Back up all important data on to two secure media, say to a CD and to a pen drive
- Use a scavenger/cleaner software like CCleaner (from http://www.ccleaner.com/) to first clean your hard drive of unnecessary files. This will free up some space. Use the same program after that to fix your registry.
- Check if at least 20% free space is there on the hard drive. If not, delete some programs. (Ideally the hard drive should never be filled beyond 60% of its capacity).
- Now shut down ALL software that is running on your computer including virus programs, and other software.
- Use a software such as Defraggler (available from the same site given above) to defragment. Do not use the computer till the defragmenting is over.
- Now reboot the computer and it is ready for use.
While windows has its own inbuilt defragmenting programs, third-party programs have many advantages over it. Thus my recommendation for the above two software for cleaning and defragmenting. I have been using both the programs for some time with great satisfaction. (I have no affiliation with these products).
Clean, fix the registry, and defragment regularly in that order of priority and you will have a computer that runs faster and more efficiently.
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Picture: Hard Drive (Creative Commons)