For those of you still using Windows XP or any earlier version of Windows, you need to manually defragment your hard drive. Windows Vista and later versions do it automatically, unless you disable the option to auto-defragment on a set schedule.
Defragmenting your hard drive will make a noticeable difference in your computer’s speed. Programs will open faster and the whole system will run quicker, as disk cache access will speed up after a defragment. What defragmenting does is reorganize fragments of files that spread out through the disk over time. Each time your computer accesses the hard drive, files get fragmented. Defragmenting your hard drive will also increase free space.
A program I highly recommend is Defraggler, made by the same company that makes CCleaner (another great program for speeding up your computer). To give you an example of what Defraggler or a similar defragmenting program can accomplish: my 320GB drive had 10GB of free space left before the defragment, and it was 23% fragmented. After running Defraggler and getting that figure down to 10% fragmented, I now have 55GB free space. So defragmenting my hard drive by only 13% gave me 45GB of free space, plus of course it made my computer faster.
All modern versions of Windows include a defragmenting program standard, and this includes Windows XP. To access the stock program, at least in Vista, open up Computer, right click on the hard drive, click properties. Click the Tools tab up top, and click Defragment Now. But again, I recommend Defraggler. It has more options and seems to get the job done better, and it’s also free.
So there you have it. Defrag your drives. Some people such as myself disable the auto-defrag option in Windows because it can start defragging when you don’t want it to. You should defragment your hard drive about once a month, depending on how you use your computer.