On a Windows system when it saves files to your hard drive, it tries to go fast and puts them on the drive as fast as possible, but not necessarily in the most organized way. Much like when you are digging in the fridge you tend to just put stuff back as opposed to organizing it. However as time goes on when Windows needs to access the files on the hard drive, it takes longer to find them as they are not organized, which can lead to slower performance. So the way to organized the files on your hard drive is called Defragmenting. Defragmenting your hard drive is much like cleaning our your fridge, it re-organizes the files on your hard drive, increasing overall performance. I am going to talk about two ways of defragmenting your hard drive, one by using the built in Windows defragmentation tool and using JKDefrag.
Windows comes with a defragmentation tool as part of the operating system. You can access it by going to Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and then Disk Defragmenter. You can analyze and defragment your hard drive from here. However there was a significant difference in this tool from Windows XP to Windows Vista. In Windows XP you could analyze and it would show you the hard drive, with the red color showing fragmented files. Depending how much red, one would want to degragment. However in Windows Vista it only tells you if the drive needs defragmenting or not, with no visual display or progress when defragging. I would suggest running it about once a month regardless.
Another free tool I have come across is JKDefrag. This is a tool you can download and run that will defragment your hard drive for Windows, regardless if it is XP or Vista. It has a nice visual display for either, and does the same job as the built in disk defragmenter for Windows. But if you don’t trust the built in disk defragmenter for Windows, this is a good alternative. Once you launch it, it will go through four phases before it is done. Much like the built in Windows Disk Defragmenter, you can stop it at anytime without any damage to your hard drive.
So whether you want to run the Disk Defragmenter that comes with Windows or use JKDefrag, I would recommend running a defragmention after installing or deleting any programs, or roughly once per month. This will keep your hard drive running smoother and increase its performance and life span.