Disk Defragmentation Issues Addressed

By Kenny Williams

I have figured out how to give myself a little boost of self-confidence when I am feeling down and thinking that no one reads my column. All I have to do is mention the disk defragmentation utility in a column. In the following weeks I am guaranteed a slew of e-mails that all go something like this: "I have a problem with the defrag program on my computer. I tried running it today and it got to 68 percent and stopped.  During the course of running the window opened 5 times that said that the drives Contents Have Changed and then the defrag starts over. What am I doing wrong and how do I get it to finish?" To fufill my weekly desire to provide entertaining and informative content, I have decided to discuss the solution to this problem that seems to plague so many of you.

Defragmentation is a process used to reorganize files on the hard drive so they can be stored and accessed more efficiently. All versions of Windows since Windows 95 have a Disk Defragmenter utility that is accessible by clicking Start>Programs>Accessories>System Tools>Disk Defragmenter.

Before Disk Defragmenter can do its thing, it first has to analyze the contents of the hard drive in order to determine the best way to reorganize the data. If the contents of the hard drive are modified in any way during the defragmentation process, Disk Defragmenter must then reanalyze the hard drive. This is why it is important to shut down all other programs before starting the utility. Since anti-virus software is constantly accessing the hard drive, it must be shut down. This can typically be accomplished by right clicking on the anti-virus icon, next to the clock and choosing to close the program.

The best way to see what applications are currently running on your computer is to press CTRL-ALT-DELETE simultaneously. This will bring up a window that will display a list of running tasks. From here you can manually shut them down by highlighting the application and then choosing End Task. In Windows 95/ 98/98SE/Me the only two tasks required to run Windows are Systray and Explorer, so leave those entries alone. You must then press CTRL-ALT-DELETE to bring the Close Program dialog box back up and repeat the process for all of the other running programs.

In WinXP/2000 do the same thing in the Applications tab, but here you can shut down everything without crashing the computer. Now click the Processes tab and look for entries that have your login name in the User Name column. You can highlight entries and click End Process to shut them down, but donít close the Explorer.exe or Taskmgr.exe processes. Also leave alone all processes that have System, Network Service, or Local Service listed in the User Name column. Close Task Manager, run Disk Defragmenter and if you still see the error message press CTRL-ALT-DELETE to open Task Manager and click the Processes tab again. Look for entries that have SYSTEM (in all capital letters) in the User Name column that also have lower-case names in the Image Name column, and close them one by one. Donít close any entries that have Image Names spelled in all capital letters and donít close entries that have names in a mix of capital and lower-case letters, such as System or System Idle Process. Disk Defragmenter should run without trouble once the lower-case entries are closed. If the system locks up after you close a process, reboot the computer and donít close that process manually in the future.

If you need computer help or have any questions, comments, suggestions please feel free to e-mail me at WebServerColumn@yahoo.com

The WebServer is a weekly computer column with a circulation of over 120,000 readers in three different publications. Look for your weekly dose of WebServer in The Caribbean Connection in Atlanta, Orlando, and Miami and in The Observer News in SouthShore.

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