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Old 4th May 2006, 07:31 PM   #3
StupidScript's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 604

What PC World (and most tech support folks) are saying is this:

Because the basic hard drives that come with today's preconfigured systems are so much larger and faster than they used to be, and because these same systems come with more RAM and faster processors ... most folks won't notice the performance improvement provided by defragmenting.

Make no mistake about it, though: Defragmenting is one of the best things you can do for any Windows system to keep it running smoothly. This is particularly true for Windows systems that see a lot of small file writing and deleting.

Consider this:

As the filesystem becomes increasingly fragmented, the simple physics involved in concatenating the fragments into useable data cause the hard drive's parts to (a) spin more frequently, (b) reverse direction more frequently and (c) shuttle the heads more frequently. Each of these activities takes time. I mean "real" time, not the "perceived" time most of us notice. Even if we're talking microseconds (which we are), that adds up. In addition, excessive fragmentation places additional wear and tear on the hard drive components, and will shorten its already delicate lifespan.

For those of you who are having weird problems like system crashes when you empty your Recycle Bin or trouble browsing your drives/networks using Windows Explorer, the problem is most likely that your "swap file" (fake RAM on the hard drive) has become too fragmented to use. If someone requests, I'll post how to fix this common problem.

In summary: Defragmenting the hard drive is required maintenance for anyone who runs Windows if they have any interest in keeping their equipment in top form. Many distributors ship newer Windows systems with the defragmentation application already set up to defragment in the background, or with a desktop icon for a commercial product like Diskkeeper.

(Note that Linux, Unix and MacOS are already designed to constantly defragment the disk(s) in the background and have no need for additional mechanisms to perform that function.)

And welcome to the forums, tempuser20062, you old gadfly!

James Butler - "Do no weevils"
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