Tips for fine tuning your system

You've got this great computer. Now what? What can you do to keep it running at peak performance? One of the easiest things you can do is to fine tune your hard drive. To accomplish that you defragment it.

First, an explanation of what fragmentation is. Fragmentation occurs when you write and delete files to your hard drive. Every time a file is deleted you free up space. When you write to the drive that free space is used. If the file being written to the drive is larger than a piece of free space then another piece of free territory is taken elsewhere on the drive. Over time you end up with a file that looks like this:

hard       is       read     This     to

You can make sense of that, but, it took you some time to figure it out, right? Your hard drive has to go through the same period of figuring as well. The more fragmented your drive, the longer it takes for the computer to figure out where all of the little pieces are and put them back together again.

By defragmenting the drive you gather up all those scattered pieces and place them into order in one area once more. The above example would then become "This is hard to read" after defragmenting. Much easier to read and much faster to read as well.

Since the advent of DOS 6 we have a pretty basic and fairly decent defragmentation program available to us. While it doesn't have some of the capabilities like ordering the files in the order you chose, it does the job and does it well of keeping your hard drive tuned for peak performance.

If you are a windows 3 user you must exit windows to the C: prompt. There you type DEFRAG and let the program churn away straightening up your hard drive. If you have multiple hard drives you can defrag each one.

A word of note here. If you have never defragmented your hard drive before then it could take awhile for the defragmentation to finish. On a computer at work that was 80% fragmented (meaning 80% of the files were scattered all over creation), it took over an hour for the defrag to get things in order once more. If you defrag your disk when you have 10% fragmentation, or about every two weeks depending on how often you write to the drive, the defrag process will only take a couple of minutes.

Windows95 users have a defrag program as well. You do not have to exit windows to run it. Since every win95 installation is different, the actual location of the program could vary. Generally, though, you will find the program on the Start menu under the Accessories sub-menu.

If you can not find the defrag program on any of the menus of the Start button then you will more than likely have to install it. Go to the Control Panel and double-click Add/Remove Programs. Click the Windows Setup tab and then highlight the Disk Tools. Click Details and put a checkmark next to Defrag. Click OK and win95 will install the utility for you.

A very strong word of warning here. Do NOT use a defrag program designed for DOS or Windows 3 on your Windows95 system! It will work but it will trash all of your long file names and could make Windows95 itself unable to run. Use only the defrag utility that comes with win95, or one written especially to work with win95 on your computer.

Seen enough? Let's go home then.