When disk access speeds slow to a crawl or applications take a long time to open, files on the hard drive can possibly be heavily fragmented. When data is written onto your hard drive, it is stored in any blank drive sector and so files are often segmented across sectors, in different locations. Defragmenting a hard disk rewrites files so that the data is stored in continuous sectors, speeding up transfer and access speeds. However, active files -- including files being used by the system's operating system -- cannot be defragmented, so there is a different process for defragging every sector of the hard drive.
Restart your computer and hold the F8 key as it boots. An "Advanced Boot Options" prompt will appear.
Select "Safe Mode with Command Prompt." Safe mode boots the system using the bare minimum of features and operating system processes. By using the command prompt, files used by the graphical user interface of the OS will be inactive.
Type "defrag /C" to run the disk defragmenter tool. The /C value tells the defrag tool to run the defragging operation on every volume on your computer.
Reboot the computer when the operation is complete by typing "shutdown /r" without the quotation marks.
Tips & Warnings
- You can also use a free boot CD such as Hiren's BootCD or Ultimate Boot CD -- both allow you to boot from the CD and run defragging tools on your hard drives.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images