Defragging problems
April 30, 2009 7:35 AM   Subscribe

I have a Toshiba laptop running Vista (alas) and a recent spate of problems (extremely slow operations, mostly) seemed to have possibly been caused by fragmentation. I tried defragging, with mixed success.

This is my work computer. I checked the properties of the hard drives and for the defrag option, it seems to be set up to do this automatically weekly at 1:00 am (when the thing is never in use, of course). Just to be sure, I manually started the defrag when I left Monday evening and when I came in Tuesday morning it was still going (fifteen hours later). I stopped the defrag and worked. Yesterday I took the afternoon off and worked from home,again starting the cycle when I left. 22 hours later when I came in again, it was still in progress.

I see a couple of possibilities. One is that the weekly automated one is not happening, and the machine has not been defragged in two years, which might explain the time it is taking now. A cowroker suggests that when I am doing the defrag now, when I leave it alone for a few minutes it is going into sleep mode and so is not doing any real defragging.

Any suggestions?
posted by ricochet biscuit to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah, check the power settings to make sure it's not set to go to Sleep mode or turn off the hard drive after a certain amount of time.

Can you tell if anything has changed after leaving it for a few hours? Usually there's a diagram of the hard disc's space with different colours for different areas (defragged, fragmented, etc).

Also, is there enough free space on the hard drive? Usually it tells me that it needs 10% free to work (defrag) at its best. If the drive is almost full it will take much longer as it can only shuffle tiny fragments around.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:41 AM on April 30, 2009

Response by poster: Plenty of memory space: the C drive is about one-third full and the D drive 8% full.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:43 AM on April 30, 2009

This article describes the problem, as well as solutions that have helped me in the past. e.g. reinstalling the OS or restoring from a disk image when your system was working properly.

This problem has occurred over time in every Windows system I've used.
posted by kidbritish at 7:47 AM on April 30, 2009

Have you changed your Internet Explorer cache settings?

By default it's set to use about 10% of your HD space if I'm not mistaken, which is ridiculous when using contemporary harddrives. Having your hard drive filled up with thousands and thousands of files a couple of KB in size slows down searching, indexing, starting up explorer, ...

Before starting things like defrag I'd first clean out temporary crap like IE cache, using Cleanup, which is a free tool that helps you to quickly delete all this garbage. It'll certainly help the speed of your defragmentation process if there's less of these around.
posted by lodev at 7:48 AM on April 30, 2009

how much RAM do you have? Defragmentation shouldn't be an issue, as newer hard drives allocate their space much better. With VISTA, RAM is normally the issue? Also, do you have a separate Video card, and are you using some of the VISTA pretty GUI stuff (Aero)?

Also, are you x64 or x86? and what are your power settings, if it is going into sleep mode, then you can turn that off?
posted by fozzie33 at 7:54 AM on April 30, 2009

It's unlikely that your problems are related to a fragmented hard disk. Vista needs a lot of RAM to work well, you should upgrade to 2 GB minimum (4 GB or more recommended).

That being said, if you really want to defrag, the built-in Windows defragger sucks. Download a free one. Lifehacker has some good recommendations.
posted by Simon Barclay at 8:10 AM on April 30, 2009

I use JkDefrag. It shows you graphically where your files are going.

I would also suggest running something like CleanUp before doing a defrag.
posted by gregr at 12:08 PM on April 30, 2009

Defraggler is a top choice for a quick and relatively efficient defrag.

As others have mentioned, make sure that you disable any sleep/suspend settings - and for good measure, turn off your screensaver (slows things down a little on a bogged down pc) and disconnect your computer form the network (wireless networks included.

For your initial defrag, run it on a fresh boot (start you computer, close anything that opens automatically, and then run your defrag).
posted by terpia at 1:55 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Echoing others in that it might not be a defragging issue. CCleaner is a great clean-up utility that will clear out your registry and temp files. Beyond cleaning, I've found that the reinstalling-the-OS-even-though-its-a-pain route pays off.
posted by puritycontrol at 7:08 PM on April 30, 2009

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