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Computer Technical Tips: Speeding up your computer by defragmenting files or getting faster drives.

If your computer suddenly slows down see the information at http://www.elearnaid.com/cotetihowtod.html.

If your computer slows down gradually the problem could be that programs take awhile to access data and load files, the problem could be file fragmentation (data broken up in little parts that take a long time to read) on your hard drive. Most if not all of the Windows operating systems come with free disk defragmentation programs because they are free there is little commercial interest in promoting their usefulness. As a result these very useful programs are somewhat overlooked.

Way back when computer files were created with fixed preassigned lengths there were two drawbacks to this it took up a lot of disk space that was not totally used and when the file exceeded the preassigned space you had to create a new one. So operating systems started to be written so that file extensions could be placed dynamically anywhere on a disk drive with a pointer to the new extension. Unfortunately, one could end up with one file with lots of little segments that were spread all over the disk and would take a long time to read. This could really slow things down because although disk drives spin fairly fast and the heads can get into the correct position in thousands of a second this is still very slow compared to the electronic speeds in the chips that are the heart of your computer. Also one program can open up dozens of files and needs to access lots of data.

The solution is to run a program that looks for files that are broken up and writes a new copy as one contiguous file. These programs do not delete the original file until the new one is created so they are fairly safe to run. Ideally you should back up your entire disk before running them but it is really not necessary as long as you trust your hard drive. You would never want to run one of these programs if you are getting error messages or problems with your hard drive, but as long as your hard drive is working fine there should be no problems.

For Windows operating systems select programs from the Start menu, then accessories, then systems tools and you will then see the icon for the program. To run these programs you would want to shut down as many applications as possible first because they can lock up files and prevent them for being defragmented. One way to do this for Windows operating systems is to restart them in safe mode and then defragment. You may be amazed at how much faster your computer runs.

Because disk drives are comparatively much slower then the electronics of your computer you can significantly speed up a computer by replacing a hard disk drive with one that has a higher RPM or can position the heads onto the place on the disk faster. This is measured in average access time which is the average time for data to be delivered and is mostly influenced by the mechanical delays (spin and head positioning) of the hard drive. Depending on how the computer is used the speed improvement can be far more noticeable with a faster disk drive than with a faster central processing unit.

If after defragmenting the files on your disk drive programs still start slow and your computer is slow when you switch between programs you might need more memory. Go to http://www.elearnaid.com/cotetihowtod.html#pagefile

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