When you "defrag" your hard drive, you run a disk defragmentor program to optimize the placement of files on your hard drive.
Here's what happens. As you use your computer, it writes to the first available spot on the hard drive. Over time, files tend to get rearranged on your hard disk, or fragmented.
If your disk is fragmented, when it tried to load a program, it may have to grab one file from the middle of the hard drive, one towards the outside, then back to the inside. The net result is that you computer runs slower.
When you run a defrag program, it puts the pieces back together, so stuff loads faster. It's probably a good idea for the average user to defrag once every 2-3 months or so.
Windows includes a Disk Defragmentor tool under the Start button, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Defragmentor.
Warning - Be careful
when running defrag. First off, it takes a long time (I usually run it
at night) to defragment a large hard drive (3 meg or higher). Also, the
defrag program takes files off your hard drive and sticks them into your
system RAM while it's reorganizing your disk. If you lose power during
a disk defragmentation, it can spell disaster for your computer. At best
you'll mess up a program or two and at worst you may no longer be able
to access your hard drive and Windows. Definitely not something to do
during a thunderstorm.
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