Given everything we've learned, is it worthwhile to defragment your hard drive? The answer is yes, but newer drive technology is likely to reduce the speed gains. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions regarding defragmentation:
- Defrag early and fairly often. If you believe the best defense is a good offense, it's probably wise to set up a defragmentation schedule beginning when you've installed software on a new system. If you're running Windows Vista, this is simple. If not, you can use the Windows Scheduler to do the job. The defrag utility will do its best work when there's plenty of free space on the drive. This also allows key system files to be written to the disk in order. Most experts seem to feel defragmentation should be run no more than once a week, but no less than once per month.
- Add more memory. It's not nearly as costly as it used to be and it will improve your computer's performance in virtually every way. In terms of disk storage, more memory enables the system to cache more data, reducing the effects of fragmentation.
- Clean up and add disk capacity. As we've seen, a disk drive that's less than 50 percent full is less likely to be slowed by fragmentation. It's also easier to defragment. Given the vastly reduced cost of disk drives, adding more capacity is a quick and easy speed booster. Don't forget to delete unused files from your hard drive from time to time. The more free space there is, the faster your programs will run.
- Replace old drives. If your disk drive is more than two or three years old, you could speed processing up considerably by replacing it with a new drive that is faster and offers enhanced file caching capabilities. As a bonus, when you copy your existing files to the new drive, they'll be defragmented automatically as an integral part of the process.
So, while new disk drive technology may reduce the benefits of defragmentation, it still pays to get your ducks in a row from time to time. For more on hard drives and related topics, take a spin over to the next page.