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Maintaining Your Hard Disk

When your computer stores a large file (such as a photograph) it breaks it down into small pieces and places it on your hard disk drive where there is free space; not necessarily in one place and not directly after the last part of the file. As a result, every time your files are used, the computer has to find and reassemble them, slowing the process down.

This ‘fragmentation’ of files can also leave lots of small unusable free space on your disk drive. To re-arrange these files into a more sensible order, freeing up disk space and keeping files together as much as possible it is recommended that your regularly ‘defragment’ your hard disk.

To launch the Disk Defragmenter tool

  1. Go to: ‘Start’ > ‘My Computer’ (in Windows XP) or ‘Start’ > ‘Computer’ (in Windows Vista)
  2. Right-click on the icon for the disk you want to defragment.
  3. Select ‘Properties’ > click the ‘Tools’ tab > click ‘Defragment Now’.

In Windows Vista, you can also set Disk Defragmenter to run automatically at appointed times.

  1. Go to ‘Start’ > ‘Control Panel’ > ‘System and Maintenance’ > click where it says ‘Defragment your hard drive’ under ‘Administrative Tools’.
  2. In the window that opens, tick the box next to where it says ‘Run on a schedule (recommended)’ and click the ‘Modify Schedule’ button to change the time and frequency.