| By Scott Spanbauer |
Free, easy-to-use disk defragmenters and optimizers let you consolidate scattered files to maximize the performance of Windows XP and Vista.
One program lets you select for yourself which files to reunite and move to the fastest areas of your drive, while the other utility makes the disk-optimization choices for you.
The unbearable slowness of hard disks
One of the best things about buying a new PC is how fast it is. Launching applications and opening files seems instantaneous. Menus fly open, and files save in a flash.
Over time, as you install more programs, create and edit files, remove applications, and replace them with new ones, the computer starts to bog down. After a couple of years of regular use, the thrill is gone and Windows’ hourglass icon becomes a constant companion.
As if that weren’t enough, applications gradually require more memory and disk space. Windows itself swells as Microsoft grafts on more service packs and security patches. This is just one of those inevitabilities, like death and taxes: as time goes on, software gets bigger and your PC gets slower.
Another reason your computer slows down over time is file fragmentation. When you install the very first applications to an empty hard drive, the disk is free to write the files to a series of logically contiguous sectors across the drive’s platter or platters.