The defragmenter in Windows rearranges all of the files on your hard drive (do not use this program if you have a Solid State Drive (SSD)), so that programs and files are all stored in one large section of your hard drive instead of being spread out all over the drives surface.
It takes the most commonly used files and moves them towards the inner most part of your hard disk, which in turn will make the access time to that data faster.
If your drive is relatively full, it is good practice to run Disk Cleanup before you begin to defragment it.
Before you run the defragmenter turn off your screen saver. This step is very important and necessary because on some machines if the defragmentation process is interrupted, it can cause problems. Also close any other programs that might be running. This includes the programs that run in the background such as your antivirus software, software firewall and any search tools.
It is also very important not to use your computer while the defragmenter is running. This can interrupt the process.
The defrag utility is located in your start menu. To access it click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Defragmenter. If you are using Vista or Windows 7 just click Start and type 'Disk Defragmenter' into the 'Search programs and Files' box and select Disk Defragmenter' from the resulting list.
Click the 'Analyze' button which is located at the bottom of the window. Then once the analysis is fully completed it will give you an option of whether you want to view a report or if you would like to defrag.
If the report suggests your PC should be defragmented click the Defragment button. This will start the defragmentation process. This process will take anywhere from thirty minutes to several hours. A lot of people defragment their drive overnight while they are sleeping.
Once you receive the "Defragmentation is complete for (drive)" you are finished with the defragmentation process. But, look at the disk usage image after the process. If you see 25 or more different sections of blue, separated by white sections, then it would be a good idea to run the defragmenter again.
Remember that you must close all programs and don't use your computer during the process, and if you really wanted to do a little better job then run the defragmenter in safe mode.
To run the defragmenter in safe mode you must first restart your computer and press F8 at the appropriate time, tapping F8 will work too since it is hard to time the exact moment you need to click the key. Once logged back into windows, this time in safe mode, you should notice that it says 'safe mode' in all the four corner of your screen. Now that you are logged back into windows, start the defragmenter.
You will notice that this time the amount of unmovable files is smaller than before, this is because there are barely any processes running in safe mode.
Each time you run the disk defragmenter it does a better a job.
The defragmenting utility is a very useful program that should be used regularly to keep your system running smoothly and you should notice a little performance boost as well after the process is completed. Using this tool once or twice a month is ideal for anyone who likes to keep their computer running smoothly.
You should not defragment a Solid State Drive as this will not improve its performance like it will on a traditional mechanical hard disk.
Modern defragmentation tools and Operating Systems should automatically refuse to defragment a Solid State Drive (SSD).
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