What’s the most important component of your computer? RAM? Processor? Monitor? How about your hard drive? As well as being home to Windows itself, your hard drive is where you store all of your documents and it is a piece of hardware that it in constant use whenever your computer is switched on.
The problem with any hard drive is that files become fragmented – they are broken up into a series of small chunks which have to be pieced together whenever they are accessed. This is a serious bottleneck to performance and it is not a problem that can be tackled without the right tool.
Sure, Windows includes its own built defragmentation tool, but the fact that a utility is built into Windows does not mean that you cannot look elsewhere. In fact, in Auslogics Disk Defrag Free you’ll find a very accomplished tool that can help to boost and maintain the performance of your system and take care of your hard drive for you.
Grab A Defragger
You can grab yourself a free copy of the program by paying a visit to the Auslogics web site, hovering over the Download menu and clicking the Auslogics Disk Defrag Free link. The download weighs in at 7.75MB and the program can be used with 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows from XP to 8.
Run through the installer – watch out for the Ask toolbar that will be added if you’re not careful – and then launch the program. You’ll immediately be greeted by a graphical representation of your hard drives.
Before you start defragmenting all of your hard drive, select the Program Settings option from the Settings menu and move to the General tab. If you have a solid state drive installed, it is a good idea to tick the option to hide it before moving to the Algorithms tab.
There are a number of settings worth investigating here, starting off with the first one. When you are defragmenting your drive, it makes sense to free up as much space as possible to see the full benefit. The program can automatically clear out temp files before defragging and if you select the ‘Move system files to the beginning of the disk’ option you can benefit from even more noticeable improvements in performance – although this does come at the expense of a somewhat slower defrag.
Optimizing Your Drives
The basic job of defragging drives is pretty simple. Tick the boxes next to the drive you want to work with – it’s sometimes a good idea to work with one at a time – click the arrow to the right of the Defrag button and select the Analyze option. Once this has been done you can then use the same menu to choose whether to perform a regular, fast or thorough defrag.
This is how most people will want to use the program, but if you’re in a rush you might want to think about defragging individual files. After analyzing a drive, move to the Files tab at the bottom of the window and click a file in the list. You’ll see in the disk map which cluster this file occupies on the drive. You can right click the file and select the Defrag Selected option to collect the various pieces of the file together into one contiguous unit. You can also click a block of clusters in the maps and select the files that are partly stored there.
Setting A Schedule
The problem with any form of maintenance of your system is that it needs to be carried out on a regular basis if you are to see on-going benefits. With busy a busy life and endless distractions, something like defragmenting your hard drive is something that is very easy to forget. But you can put the responsibility for running future defrags back into the hands of the program by setting up a schedule.
Click the Settings menu and select the Scheduler option – you can also click the little clock icon to the lower left of the main program window – and tick the ‘Defragment automatically’ box. There are a few ways you can approach scheduled defrags and the first is probably the most intensive.
From the ‘How often’ drop down menu, select the ‘When PC is idle’ and then specify a time period using the second menu – your selected disk will be automatically defragmented when you have not been using your PC for the length of time your choice, but it will not do so more than twice a day. This is a good option if you are the type of person who does not leave their computer on around the clock.
Of courses, there’s also the option of a more traditional approach to schedule and run the defragger on a regular basis. Just select the Daily, Weekly or Monthly option from the first drop down menu and specific a day or time when you know your computer is going to be switched on. You can then choose which drives should be included in the optimization task.
Drive defragmentation is one of the less glamorous and exciting aspects of computing, but it’s something that is well worth investing time in as it will pay dividends. Try it out and see what you think.