Improve Windows Performance by Defragmenting your Hard Drives

Windows Disk Defragmenter Icon

While using your computer, files are constantly being accessed, modified, and moved.  This action causes your system to place files in non-sequential order.  When your system is fragmented, and you install new software, the software gets copied in small chunks and often not in the correct order.  This process can increase the number of head-disk seek spins when reading files, as well as impair how many bits per second can be accessed.  Regularly defragmenting your system will help to keep this from happening, and is especially necessary before copying large software packages.

For illustrative purposes, a fragmented partition is similar to a messy library.  Even if you’re an expert librarian, your effectiveness will be impaired if books are mismatched – especially so for those books that should be stored together as part of a series.

Keeping your PC defragmented will also assist with bringing in new volumes [programs], and help your librarian [hard-drive] live a long, stress-free and healthy life.

The good news is, Windows already comes with a built-in Disk Defragmenter AND, to use it is simple!  Vista even allows you to schedule automatic defragmenting, which is convenient for those of us who leave our computers running all day.

Here is how to use Windows built-in Defragmenter to clean up your system partitions.  Please allow plenty of time for this, especially if you have never defragmented before.  If this is your first time, I would recommend defragmenting several times in a row.  Also, it’s best to close all applications while defragmenting, as Defragmenter cannot move files that are currently being used/locked by the system.


Run Windows Disk Defragmenter using Windows Vista


1.   Click Start, then Click  > All Programs > Click Accessories > Click System Tools > then Click Disk Defragmenter
Launch Disk Defragmenter from Windows Vista Start Menu


2.  Once open, you can choose whether to Defragment Now or Schedule defragmenting for when you’re not on your PC

Disk Defragmenter for Windows Vista Job Scheduler


Run Windows Disk Defragmenter using Windows XP


1.  Click Start, then Click  > All Programs > Click Accessories > Click System Tools > then Click Disk Defragmenter

Launch Disk Defragmenter from Windows XP


2.  Once open, you can Analyze your drive to see how fragmented it is, or just Click Defragment to start

Disk Defragmenter Options for Windows XP - Analyze and Defragment


Now Just wait for Defragmenter to finish.  Again I would recommend defragmenting several times in a row if this is your first time.



Defragmenting daily produces the best results.  Also, if your one of those people who likes 3rd Party products – there are a lot of Disk Defragmenters out there for download.  I’ve used several in the past (however, usually I just use the free versions that come with Windows.)  Here’s a couple I can recommend:

  • Defraggler – One of my favorite tools for the job, it’s Free and works well.
  • Diskeeper – Corporate Product.  Feature Rich and easy to centrally manage.  Ideal for Servers and Desktops.  Very expensive.
  • O&O Defrag – Works well, feature rich.  Relatively inexpensive.
  • JKDefrag – My favorite from the list of FREE products.  It’s not the prettiest but, it gets the job done.




  1. momentum

    Like many others who wanted an alternative to the Vista defragger, I checked out various programs and finally settled for Diskeeper. I think for the speed, efficiency of defrag and the fabulous automatic option, its worth the price.

    • Ahmad

      I just strtaed using defraggler. I like how you can schedule the scans I didn’t even realize you could do that. How often do you recommend running a scan?

  2. MrGroove

    I agree, Diskeeper is a great product. The automatic feature is a nice option especially for Server Admins who can’t get downtime approved to Defrag the Hard Disks or the disks are sooo big it’s not possible to run through a defrag in the allotted downtime window. I’m running it currently on ~2000 servers however we decided due to cost to not install it on the desktops.

    That being said….. If your on a tight budget, it’s probably not the best option. FYI – for those of you familiar with Diskeeper, the Automatic Feature “constantly” defragments the hard drives of a computer when it’s usage drops close to Idle. It’s a great way to proactively manage the fragmentation on high use disks / platters.

  3. big daddy

    I think a hard drive is disarray is a sign of great intelligence …. just like having a clean or messy desk

  4. shockersh

    I sooo agree! now if only I can get my roommate to understand!!

  5. Gaspard Leon

    Paying for Diskeeper: pwned
    You know that the Windows XP (and probably the vista) defraggers are actually a “lite” version of the Diskeeper software.

    Anyway after reading the great defrag shootout

    I’ve tried most of the products, and for the free ones, have found I like JkDefrag, although it’s simple it’s the most informative… then for speed of defragmenting, and good features such as optimizing the MFT and folders, Puran Defrag is great if you don’t mind paying.
    Otherwise, out of the big commercial ones, I prefer Raxco’s Perfectdisk… I tried Diskeeper for a while and I came the the conclusion that it’s rubbish for the price.

  6. MrGroove

    @Gaspard – I’ve used Raxco’s Perfectdisk in my home lab and it’s worked quite well. It probably deserved an “Honorable” Mention but then again, that’s what you readers are for ;)

  7. Gaspard Leon

    @big daddy:
    I read the article you linked… unfortunately the human brain and the harddrive are not very good analogues… basically a fragmented hard drive is sort of analogous to having a desk with a pieces of paper on it but the papers are all ripped to bits, and defragmenting puts all those ripped bits into whole pieces of paper. “optimizing” the disk (often included in defrag programs) actually re-arranges the whole pieces so they are closer to the reader (the person in the analogy)
    Yeah, my main point is that I’m not the biggest fan of Diskeeper… I will reserve my judgement though, because I’ve not tried the “latest” version(s).

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