When a computer is used regularly, it will slow down over time due to something known as "fragmentation." In short, files will be broken up and spread across various places on the hard drive. This makes it more difficult for the computer to function optimally, as it takes longer to access information. It would be like trying to find a sheet of paper filed in an office that doesn't have any system of organization. Once in a while, this needs to be reversed through defragmentation of the computer. It's not as complicated as it sounds; defragmentation can be broken down into just a few easy steps.
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- Give the computer a constant source of power. In the event that there is a power surge, not only should the computer be on a surge protector to prevent physical damage, but it should be hooked up to a backup battery. This will prevent the computer from losing power if an outage should occur. If the computer were to be suddenly turned off during the defragmentation process, data on the hard drive, including the entire operating system, could be corrupted.
- Get rid of any malicious software on the computer. The goal of defragmentation is to have the computer reorganize all of the files that were scattered, but this shouldn't include viruses, adware or spyware. These are things that need to be cleaned up before the process begins to protect the computer and all of the information on it.
- Close all open programs. This includes programs that run in the background, such as Java or any anti virus software. It allows the computer to focus all of its power on the defragmentation process, and will help prevent slowdowns or crashes while it is happening.
- Back up any important files on the computer to another source, such as an external hard drive. If something were to go wrong and the system were corrupted, those files may not be recoverable. This can be especially devastating if the user had important business documents saved. Depending on a computer to save important data without backing it up is asking for trouble in the first place.
- Start the defragmentation process. Open the Start menu. After that, go to Programs - Accessories - System Tools - Disk Defragmenter. The Analyze button will sum up how badly defragmentation is needed, if it is needed at all. If it is, click the Defragment button.
If these steps are followed properly, the defragmentation process will generally complete without any issues. If errors occur, be sure to take down any information provided and show it to a computer professional. Defragmentation can take several hours, depending on how large the hard drive is and how fast the computer is. Because hard drives are getting bigger and bigger, it is suggested to run the defragmentation over night so that daily activities such as email won't be a concern. Once the process is complete, it will be worth it. The computer will run like it was given a turbo boost.