Do you remember the good old days when your desktop or laptop was as good as new? It boots in a jiffy, and any task that you do gets executed in a snap. Files open quickly, and even scan operations are done in record time.
However, like all good things, such times do not last for very long. After a few months of use and with hundreds of new files and programs, your PC slowly ages -- and slows down. Several software are actually available over the Internet, promising a quick fix that will bring your system back to the health of its glory days. Some would even promise a "one-click" fix to bring your PC back up to par. If you have ever tried any of these, then you would know that more often than not, these programs could not live up to their promises.
It turns out that in several cases, the best remedy for a snail-paced PC would be a certain process, which is built right into the Windows operating system -- Disk Defragmentation.
As new programs are installed and removed from your system and as new files are saved in different folders, your hard disk slowly gets fragmented. More precisely, fragmentation happens when your computer attempts to save bits and pieces of information in different points across the hard disk that are not close to each other. When the system attempts to call up this data in the future, it will have to search for multiple parts of the hard disk, taking up more time and energy than if the bits of data were saved close together. Not only do files load slowly, some vital system processes may also load slowly, resulting in frozen screens.
When a hard disk is defragmented, the system searches the entire storage for bits that are related or belong to the same file or process. It then "shifts" the location of these processes so that they are close together, allowing the computer to access them more easily.
The regular defragmentation of the hard disk results in a large performance gain. Below are some of the benefits of hard disk defragmentation.
* Faster Loading of Applications. This is especially true for larger applications, but virtually any file on the system will benefit if the storage is not fragmented. In essence, a storage is comparable to a series of storage boxes that store vital pieces of data. Once the hard drive has all its related data near each other, there is no more need to exert excess effort to search the entire storage.
However, it is not only the loading time that is affected. It can also help speed up all processes, reducing the lag evident in aging computers.
* Faster Start Up. If defragmentation improves the loading time of different files and applications, then the entire boot time of the Windows operating system can be improved as well. When the operating system boots up, it systematically goes through all of the files and processes that will enable it to be usable. If these files are scattered in multiple places around the hard drive, then it is much harder for the OS to do so.
* Extended Life for your Hard Drive. Despite the advent of Solid State Drives, a vast majority of hard drives today still consist of the mechanical variety. It is basically made of a disk and an arm that scans it. When fragmented, the disk has to spin multiple times as the arm scans it, causing more stress. A defragmented hard drive will have less distance to scan when all the bits and bytes are in neighboring places.
* Better Security. One may not think of it, but a fragmented hard drive could actually help conceal holes in your computer's security. When an anti-virus, anti-malware, or virtually any security software scans a fragmented drive, the process is usually not as efficient as when the drive was properly defragmented.
* Less Errors. When a hard drive is defragmented, the Windows operating system can actually point out some bad sectors that could potentially cause problems when used to save files.
* Reduced Defragmentation Time in the Future. One of the striking things about the defragmentation process is that it can take several hours to complete in the first run, depending on the size of the drive. However, regularly defragmenting can help reduce the needed timeframe in future runs.
While computers are very complex systems and may need different levels of care, it helps to realize that sometimes, the most basic maintenance can help alleviate some of the common issues that we encounter.
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