Tech Terms

Defrag (Defragment Hard Drive)(click to show)

Defragment Hard DriveDefragging (or defragmenting) a hard drive refers to a process of cleaning up the files on a hard drive. When files are accessed or moved, very small pieces of that file get scattered around the hard drive. Windows is very good at keeping track of where all the pieces are, but doing so causes files to be accessed more and more slowly over time. Eventually files are being accessed in so many places that the entire system slows down. Defragging fixes this problem by relocating all the pieces of the files (as many as possible, anyway) all together so that they can be accessed much more quickly, and so that Windows no longer has to fetch pieces from all over the hard drive. Depending on the size of the hard drive and how fragmented the files are, defragging can take anywhere from a few seconds to 8 hours or more. If you haven't defragged in a while, it's best to set it up to run overnight, so that you can put your computer to work while you sleep and not interrupt work time. To access your Windows-default defrag program:
  1. Click on the Start Menu icon Windows 7 Start Menu Icon in your taskbar.
  2. Click on All Programs, then Accessories, then System Tools.
  3. Click on Disk Defragmenter.
NOTE: Because they use a different system for managing files, Macs rarely need to be optimized in any way, and Linux machines never need to be defragged, so this applies mainly to Windows-based machines.