Defragging My Hard Drive
September 2, 2005 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Help me defrag my hard drive! I haven't defragmented it in a long time, and now it just won't work.

It's been years since I defragged (oops, my bad), and now the Windows defragment tool is having a problem. It runs for a while, then it hits some sort of snag around the 10% mark and restarts at the beginning of the drive. I'm running an older machine with Windows 98 SE, and the hard drive is partitioned in two. The 10%-restart problem happens on both the "drives."

What can I do? I've read that most defrag programs simply provide a different interface for the Windows defrag program, which is what's giving me the problem already. Is there a program out there that actually runs its own defrag operation? Free would be great, I'm a poor student.
posted by MrZero to Computers & Internet (19 answers total)
My solution to this problem (at the time, as a college student) was to install Linux until I could afford Windows 2000.

However, perhaps this article might be of some help? The author claims to have a solution to the problem.
posted by selfnoise at 8:49 AM on September 2, 2005

Best answer: Windows 98 stops defragmenting if ANYTHING accesses the drive. It's a total nightmare. I remember doing my mum's machine and having to turn off AV and all the little resident programs which sit on your task bar giggling at you whilst you swear at the machine as it bails out of defrag for the 5th time,

Geekgirls have quite a good step-by-step for making sure there's nothing still running which might access the disk.
posted by handee at 8:50 AM on September 2, 2005

Best answer: handee is right.

In addition, make sure you clean as much crap off of the drive as possible before defragging. In addition to old files you don't need, old software you don't use, etc. clear browser caches etc. More free space makes it go faster, and if you have less than about 10% free space it never seems to work, at least for me.
posted by caddis at 8:57 AM on September 2, 2005

Thirding handee - I had this problem once because a virus scanner kept interfering with the defrag operation. The key was to stop all processes that access the hard disk so the defrag utility could do its thing. If you have broadband, you might want to disconnect from your modem before you deactivate any firewall or antivirus programs that you have resident.
posted by jasper411 at 9:01 AM on September 2, 2005

Have you tried defragging while in safe mode?
posted by ludwig_van at 9:01 AM on September 2, 2005

Second what Ludwig said!
posted by k8t at 9:06 AM on September 2, 2005

I also had win 98. First run scandisk in thorough mode. In my case the defrag ran every few percent and restarts. I think this happens when you defrag for the first time after a very long time. It took me 8 hours after such restarts of defrag after every few percent, but it was done finally. Now it runs fast - 1 hour or so.
posted by webmeta at 9:15 AM on September 2, 2005

I always found that the defrag utility included in Windows would run into problems when the drive was "very" defragmented. I use Diskeeper, with great results. There is also a trial version available.
posted by jeffmik at 9:25 AM on September 2, 2005

Seconding Diskeeper. It does a far beter job than native defrag.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:39 AM on September 2, 2005

(It also spells better than I do.)
posted by Lyn Never at 9:39 AM on September 2, 2005

O&O Defrag is the best one out there. No frills, just run it.
posted by mr.dan at 10:54 AM on September 2, 2005

Diskkeper eats CPU and thrashes (obviously) the HD though, not for use on a slower PC with little RAM
posted by hardcode at 12:21 PM on September 2, 2005

Boot up into safe mode, then run defrag. Easy.
posted by armoured-ant at 12:30 PM on September 2, 2005

hardcode - when you say 'thrashes' the HD, what do you mean by that? I've used it without any ill effect on many of my computers and find it to be a great product. I wouldn't leave it in "set it and forget it" mode on a system with less than 512MB ram but really, you shouldn't be using your computer while it defrags anyways.
posted by jeffmik at 12:41 PM on September 2, 2005

Another shout out for O&O defrag. It's an absolutely amazing little defrag proggy - definitely worth forking the cash over.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 1:26 PM on September 2, 2005

The quick and dirty way:

Hit ctrl-alt-delete, and end task on everything except explorer and systray. Don't hit ctrl-alt-delete twice in a row, it will reboot your machine.

After all the tasks are gone, then run defrag. It'll go through 100%.

May I also recommend that you give Windows 2000 a shot? Most machines that can run Windows 98 can run 2000 without a hitch. Much nicer OS. Anyhow, good luck!
posted by id at 2:01 PM on September 2, 2005

i had the same problem. The defragger wanted to scan my hard drive before defragging it. I changed the settings and told it to just defragment and not scan and that worked. It took at least 5-6 hours though and I was only using about 60% of my disk space.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 3:25 PM on September 2, 2005

The first 10% of Windows defrag is scandisk. Run that separately and fix all the problems first. Then boot with the SHIFT key down to stop everything in the Startup folder from starting and try again.
posted by krisjohn at 5:16 PM on September 2, 2005

Best answer: OK, to follow-up for any future searches on this, I followed these steps, and the defrag process went smoothly. It took a few hours, but it got the job done.

  • Clean off extra stuff from the hard drive
  • Run Disk Cleanup
  • Run System Configuration Utility (msconfig), General tab, Selective Startup, unchecked all options (as described in the link)
  • Restart
  • Run Scandisk in "Thorough" mode
  • Run Disk Defragmenter
  • Run msconfig again, General tab, Normal Startup
  • Restart

  • posted by MrZero at 7:36 PM on September 11, 2005

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