Problem of the week

Tips & Hints

I cannot defragment my hard drive

4 April 2001

I cannot run the defrag program on my computer. Each time I try it keeps restarting until it finally stops at 9%. What can I do to get it to run?

When a computer saves data it saves to the first available empty space, as a result programs and data end up scattered all over the hard drive. Defragmenting gathers all the scattered parts, rearranges the hard drive and saves everything in an orderly way. If you have plenty of spare space on the hard drive it is good to defrag every few months, if the hard drive is low on space it should be run more often.

Because defrag programs need to carry out extensive write operations on hard drives they like it when nothing else is running. You probably have another program running in the background that is causing the defrag to restart or pause. The best solution for Windows 95, 98 and ME users is to start the computer in safe mode (hold down the F5 key just before the windows screen appears) and running defrag, remember to disable the screensaver too.

Defragment programs will also not run if there is a problem on the hard drive, defrag will often stop when it hits a problem. This requires running Scandisk to fix any errors, when running Scandisk choose the thorough option this will check the drive for any physical problems. Once Scandisk has detected and repaired any errors Defrag should run, be prepared for Scandisk to take some hours to run if it detects serious problems.

There are situations where Scandisk picks up serious errors that indicates major problems on the hard drive. If this happens you should forget Defrag, backup your data and see about getting a new hard drive. We will discuss this in next week's problem.

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