Disk Defragment Information

My IT Support Team encourages all Windows 98 (and 95/2000/XP) users to defragment their hard drives from time to time.

Following are some instructions. This is not simply cosmetic: it is a valuable means to obtain more disk space and overall efficiency.

Overview: Disk Defragmentation (for Windows 98) is a process which utilizes the efficiency of the FAT32 file system used by Windows 98. As files are stored on your hard drive, they sometimes get scattered throughout the drive in “noncontiguous clusters”. In order for the disk drive to open these files, it must look about for the scattered pieces of the file. This slows down the speed of opening files. In a sense, Disk Defragmenter condenses a disk and thus makes more room available. According to Microsoft: “You can use Disk Defragmenter to rearrange files and unused space on your hard disk so that programs run faster”.

Before beginning, please keep in mind that it may be best to complete this task right before you leave for the evening. Also, all programs should be closed during this operation. The length of time it takes to complete this defragmentation will vary from PC to PC (or laptop). But it can be time-consuming. Also, it may be necessary to disable screen-saver functionality. It is also possible that some system resources may interfere with this process and therefore interrupt the defragmentation process. This situation varies from system to system, so please contact us for assistance as needed.

Finally: in the event of an emergency (i.e. power going down while defragmenting is in process), IT Support urges backing up your documents before proceeding. Open your personal folder on the Network Server and drag work documents there. Or, of course, you can “Save To…” that drive as well. Don’t forget to copy your Outlook 98/2000 .PST files there as well [although all Windows users should be on Exchange Server, so this will not be a concern because all Outlook folders are stored on the server].

The very first task is to complete a “Disk Cleanup”. This should be relatively quick. Select: Start, point to Programs, then to Accessories, and finally select System Tools. Then click Disk Cleanup. By default, the C:\ Drive should be selected as the one to clean up. Click OK. Review the files to delete. It should be OK to delete temporary files, unless you specifically saved files to a Temporary folder for safekeeping. Click OK, then affirm.

To start Disk Defragmenter go to: Start, point to Programs, then to Accessories, and finally select System Tools. Then click Disk Defragmenter. Alternatively: Start/Run, then type in ‘defrag’. You should probably see the C:\ Drive by default as you begin. If not, select it from the drop-down menu. If you view the Settings: in “When defragmenting my hard drive” both selections should be checked. Also, in “I want to use these options”, check “Every time I defragment my hard drive”. Click “OK” twice and you are ready to defragment your drive.

NOTE: the sad reality is that this utility very seldom finishes by itself. In fact, most of the time it will go a certain distance (10%?) and continuously restart. The reason: the disk is being interrupted by a process of some sort, and the defragmentation needs to get a snapshot of the disk which cannot be changed at all until defrag finishes. So, some things that can enable the completion:
– Disconnect PC from the network
– Go into Power Management in the Control Panel and change “Turn off monitor” and – “Turn off hard disks” to Never [if the PC goes into power save mode during defrag, then it may interrupt the defrag]
– Restart into Safe Mode: press F5 key upon boot, until you hear a beep, or hold down Control Key. At the Menu, choose the Safe Mode selection. Few processes are running in Safe Mode, just the bare bones. Therefore, an interruption is highly unlikely. I have never seen a Defragmentation fail if in Safe Mode
– Disable anti-virus (if not in Safe Mode)
– Control-Alt-Delete and End Task of everything(again, if not in Safe Mode) – Exit any and all open applications and screen savers! (again, if not in Safe Mode – see above)

Part 2 – More Windows Defragmentation in Windows

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