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Hard Disk Maintenance

Since hard drives are one of the key system bottlenecks in your computer, it’s a good idea to keep it in good working order.  There are several things you can do from your operating system to help things out.

De-fragmentation

A ’defrag’ as it’s known in the business, is a simple process used to create harmony out of disorder on your hard drive.  Files stored in your hard drive aren’t placed in any logical order.  The hard drive doesn’t come with any advanced algorithms to place files for a program in the same area.  As you delete, download, and install programs, gaps will inevitably open up and get filled with different information.  The concept of ’file fragmentation’ occurs when a single file is stored in multiple areas of the hard drive.

When files become fragmented, it takes longer for the disk to seek, read, and send the data to the CPU.  With increasing amounts of fragmentation across the entire hard drive, you’ll begin to feel a serious performance hit.  Luckily, Windows comes with a defrag applet that is assessable through your hard drive’s tools in the property menu.  Just make sure you defrag your disks when it tells you that it needs it (the defrag program will automatically analyze your HD) and you’ll be better off afterwards.  On average, you should only need to defrag every few weeks, and the entire operation could take between 10-30 minutes, depending on the size and percentage of fragmentation on your hard drive.

Scandisk

Sometimes a hard drive will accumulate a number of file errors that could lead to serious problems on your computer.  However, most modern hard drives have ’smart’ features that automatically monitor the performance of your disk.  It’s not so important these days to run ’scandisk’ from Windows.  Try to run it from time to time (maybe every month) to make sure there’s nothing seriously wrong with your hard drive.

Partitioning

One advanced method of managing your hard drive is to ’partition’ it into virtual drives.  For instance, you could partition a 100-gigabyte hard drive into two partitions of 30 gig and 70 gig sizes.  The 30-gig one would be assigned the ’C:’ while the 70-gig would get ’D:’—In this way, you could use the 30-gig partition for your operating system and critical system applications, while you use the bigger 70-gig partition for games, movies, music, and miscellaneous applications.  In the event that you need to re-install your OS or reformat, you can just do it for C: while all of your documents, music, and precious files are left alone on D:!  Read online documents for proper instructions on how to partition your hard drive.

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