How can I load programs and files faster?

As you add and remove files on your system, Windows writes data to different portions of the hard drive. Over time, pieces of files become scattered (or “fragmented”) over large portions of your hard drive. When you want to run a program or open a file, Windows then has to search over large portions of the hard drive to find all the necessary pieces, making your programs open slower. Defragmenting the hard drive places the pieces of each file next to each other so Windows doesn’t have to roam all over the hard drive to find an entire file.

Warning: Defragmenting will make deleted files completely unrecoverable. Make sure you do not wish to restore any files from deletion before continuing.

Note: Make sure to shut down all running programs and screensavers before starting defragmentation. Likewise, do not open any programs or files during defragmentation. Defragmentation can take a few minutes or a few hours, depending on how fragmented your drive is.

To defragment your hard drive:

  1. Select the Start button on your taskbar
  2. Select All Programs
  3. Select Accessories
  4. Select System Tools
  5. Select Disk Defragmenter. The Disk Defragmenter window will appear.
  6. Single-click the drive you want to defragment. Usually this will be (C:), but you may have other hard drives you wish to look at.
  7. Select the Analyze button near the bottom of the window. Windows will calculate the percent of fragmentation on the drive and tell you whether or not you need to continue defragmentation. You can skip this step if you know for sure that you want to defragment your drive.
  8. Select the Defragment button near the bottom of the window. The defragmentation process will begin.
    (Please note: In Vista, there is no graphical representation of the progress of the defragmentation process, only the "wait circle" cursor is shown.)
  9. Restart your computer once the process is complete. Doing this allows Windows to fully process the defragmentation.

You should defragment your hard drive regularly, once every two months or so, and more frequently if you are constantly adding and/or removing programs or deleting files from your hard drive.