Guy’s Ezine 141 – Defrag Litmus Test
This week I want to return to my roots, and feature a good old fashioned Guy’s litmus test. Long-time readers of my newsletters may remember how I like to create simple tests which help new techies discover if their organization is run by amateurs or professionals.
Litmus Test – How often do you defrag your computers?
Professionals say: ‘I Defrag my hard disks every 3 months’
Amateurs say: ‘What is de Frag’?
Why Defragment your disks?
Firstly, why are we bothering with a defrag? The answer is to speed up your computer in general, and disk access in particular. Big database files benefit most from defragmentation. However, if any file is stored in one contiguous area of the disk, then it’s only common sense that it will be quicker to access than if the same file is stored as 20 fragments.
Secondly, more good things will happen once you plan a defrag. You may think ‘hmm… this could be a good time to delete unwanted files. So, why don’t I take this opportunity for a clear-out of the temp or tmp folders?’
Thirdly, a defrag may trigger you into undertaking other disk related tasks, for example investigating corrupted files with chkdsk. And on XP there are restore points; do you need all those copies? If so, can they be defragged? The answer is yes, but only if you temporarily stop srservice, the Shadow Copy Service. Incidentally, another benefit of defragging your disks is that backup will be quicker.
If a defrag is worth doing, then it’s worth doing properly.
Begin by temporarily disabling your virus checker. Real-time virus checkers and defrag don’t get along, they fight each other and the system grinds to a halt.
My friend ‘Barking Eddie’ defrags his computers in ‘Safe Mode’, he claims that this allows more files to be defragged. Eddie reason that in normal usage the system, or a database, locks files so they cannot be defragged, but in safe mode only the essential files are in loaded into memory. There again, Eddie is obsessive in getting his machine to run as fast as possible.
If you have the luxury of a second disk, evaluate which files should be stored on which disks. For example, the pagefile is best stored on the second disk so it’s not in contention with the system files.
A real professional would also compress rarely used files, especially graphics files. Paul DeBrino recommends Winzip version 9, or 7-zip. There again, you could use the built-in compression capabilities of XP or Vista. However, if you get sent .RAR files then 7-zip will unpack them, whereas the built-in Windows compression tools will not.
If I could digress; since compressing files is something you rarely undertake, don’t be proud and call for the built in help. While I knew all about right-clicking a file, and selecting: Send To, Compressed (Zipped) Folder. However, consulting help reminded me about creating compressed folders. Help also helped solve the mystery why compression was not on the menu of one of my friend’s XP computers – it was a 64bit version that does not support compression.
One more thing, few professionals ever admit to using help, however the best techies consult help when nobody is looking and pass-off the knowledge as their own.
SolarWinds’ Orion performance monitor will help you discover what’s happening on your network. This utility will also guide you through troubleshooting; the dashboard will indicate whether the root cause is a broken link, faulty equipment or resource overload.
What I like best is the way NPM suggests solutions to network problems. Its also has the ability to monitor the health of individual VMware virtual machines. If you are interested in troubleshooting, and creating network maps, then I recommend that you try NPM now.
Which program to use for your defrag?
Once again, you could use the built-in help and search for ‘Defrag’. This may alert you that there is a command line version of the GUI, which is handy for scripting. Help may also remind you that this would be a good time to run chkdsk to see if any files are corrupted. If so then you need to investigate and as far as defrag is concerned, you may be able to free up some disk space.
There are about 7 ways of starting a defrag, as I am obsessed with help this week, I will leave you to press F1 and type Defrag in the Search box.
Paul DeBrino recommends JkDefrag from Jeroen Kessels
In a word, the benefit of third party defraggers is, flexibility. Third-party defraggers also have extra features which make them more intelligent, thus they defragment the files faster and can work with less free space, other features include scheduling at off-peak hours, and choosing a sub-set of folders to defrag. Neither Paul nor I are on commission because this is a free utility. If like us you enjoy testing free utilities then download JkDefrag and give it a chance to impress.
Defragmenting your disks is a ‘cost nothing’ way of improving a computer’s performance. Investigate 3rd party products, such as JkDefrag and evaluate if they are better than the built-in defraggers. Take this opportunity for a general disk tune-up, clear out old files, run chkdsk and compress rarely used files.
Tired of writing scripts? The User Management Resource Administrator solution by Tools4ever offers an alternative to time-consuming manual processes.
It features 100% auto provisioning, Helpdesk Delegation, Connectors to more than 130 systems/applications, Workflow Management, Self Service and many other benefits. Click on the link for more information onUMRA.
Will and Guy’s Humour
Will and Guy have been reviewing their material and conclude that the funniest article is their collection conversation between an archivist atthe Smithsonian Institute and the gentleman with his archaeological find.
Lots of useful disk and file articles