Defragmenting Your Hard Drive
To help understand why a fragmented hard can slow down your computer it may help to understand the process better, or how the operating system populates the drive.
A hard drive consists of a number of different blocks and sectors and this is where your data is actually stored. When you write data to the drive rather than place the data in a predetermined position the data is dropped almost randomly over the entire hard drive.
To exacerbate matters a single file can consist of a number of individual pieces of information that are scattered around and when you query the drive for the information the drive heads have to visit multiple sectors of the drive to pick up the full file.
This is in effect like cutting up your credit card and scattering the individual pieces around the house, if you go on line to make a purchase you would then have to run round the house to collect all the individual pieces of your card in order to make payment (get the file our need).
In hard drive terms this is called a fragmented drive. A fragmented hard drive can also shorten the lifespan of your hard disk as the heads have to work many times harder to scour the drive to find all the parts of the fragmented file. Windows has its own free defragmentation utility you can use as part of your system maintenance, or you could buy a more refined version that lets you set automatic background defragmentation of your drive during slack processor and usage cycles.