Defrag automatically in minutes

I just read Fred Langa’s “Langa Letter: Make Windows XP Self-Maintaining” dated on October 27, 2003. Wow, I skimmed through it the first time around, but he brought it up again somewhere in one of his latest newsletters. In any case, I was tired of manually defragmenting my hard drives, in addition to the length of time it took.

This can create a kind of vicious circle of underuse for those latter tools. For example, Defrag can take hours to run, especially if it hasn’t been run in a while. If the only obvious way to run it is to trigger it manually, many users won’t bother because it’s inconvenient and ties up the PC for lengthy periods. Over time, the PC’s files become more and more fragmented–scattered around the hard drive, piecemeal, instead of being stored in neatly contiguous wholes–which leads to a loss in drive responsiveness, extra wear, extra noise, and heat; and which can make some file-recovery operations (such as undeletes) less reliable. Because the drive is getting more and more fragmented, running Defrag would now take even longer to run, so the users put it off even more–on and on.

The following paragraph caught my eye:

In contrast, when Defrag is used regularly, it usually only takes minutes, not hours, to run to completion, restoring normal performance and reducing wear, noise, and file-recovery problems. But that first use of Defrag can actually take several hours, so you’d think that Microsoft would have made it easy to run Defrag as an automated task, say, in the middle of the night when the PC wasn’t in use and when it wouldn’t matter if it took a while to complete.

So, I carefully read the whole thing. Five pages might seem long, but knowing Fred, he likes to explain thoroughly so everyone can understand. The actual process of automating the task of at least defragging your hard drive(s) takes only a minute.

In addition, I’ve also started utilizing Standby on my home computer. (I’ve been using Hibernate on my laptop already.) My keyboard has Power, Sleep, and Wake keys. I don’t know if the Power key works to turn on my computer, but the other two do. Awesome, because I don’t have to reach down to press the power button on my computer.

In relation to automated defragging, I put my system into Standby at night. When it’s scheduled to defrag, it’s set to wake the system up and defrag. Afterwards, it goes back into Standby. I’m saving power, so that’s definitely a plus – I’m an idiot for not doing so before.

Note: My power management settings is set to put my PC into Standby after 1 hour.

Oh yeah, checking my Task Scheduler logs this morning, last night’s defrag took 90 minutes. I’ve been doing quite a bit with my system, such as deleting songs I don’t even like anymore. I’m sure the defrag time will be shorter if I didn’t work with the files so much for a day.

Other Goodies: Contig, PageDefrag

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Bryan Villarin

Bryan is a Trust & Safety Wrangler at Automattic. He's also a photographer, card magician, and cat whisperer. (Thanks to my friend and colleague Steve Blythe for the sweet photo!)

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