How To Defrag

Dear Computer Lady,

How do you defrag a computer? Does this get rid of a lot of junk on you computer?

A computer is like a car- I know how to drive a car but I don’t know how to work on it.

Thanks, Charlotte.


Dear Charlotte,

Thank you for your question. I have a lot of people ask me how to defrag their computer, but not many think to ask what defragging will do for their computer.

I’m going to start with a description of what defragging your computer does.

The data on your computer is stored in small sections of your hard drive called, sectors. One file might use only one sector, while larger files will use many sectors.

When you first start using your computer, all the information on it is stored pretty much in order. When you take a picture with your camera, for example, and then transfer the picture on your computer, it might use sectors 150 through 160.

As time goes on and you continue to use your computer, you will continue to add files and delete files. Let’s say I transferred a dozen pictures from my camera on the computer, then decided that two of them were not worth keeping so I deleted them. The space where those deleted pictures were stored is now available, so the next time I save something on my computer it will use those empty sectors first, and if more room is needed, it will use the next available sectors.

Over time, your files are no longer stored together, instead, one file might start in sector 150, then jump to 680, and finish up in 920. When you have many files split up like this, they are fragmented. (broken up onto fragments). A fragmented computer tends to run a little slower, since your hard drive has to go to several locations just to read one file.

When you defrag your computer, the files moved around so that they are back together. This makes your hard drive a little more efficient.

Do you need to defrag your computer? In the early versions of Windows (Windows 95 or 98) you had to manually run the defrag program every few months, and it would speed up your computer. In more recent versions of Windows (I think it started with Vista) defragging is built into the operating system. Windows will automatically tidy those files up when the computer is idle.

If you have an older version of Windows and you want to know how to defrag your computer, just follow these directions:

1. Double click on the “MY Computer” icon on your desktop to open it.
2. Right-click on your hard drive, and click “Properties”.
3. Click on the “Tools” tab, and click “Defragment Now”.
4. Click on “Defragment”.

Or, check out this cool video tutorial that I found:


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