Doing The Defrag Shuffle

Fred: I have a 20G hard drive that is badly fragmented.  I’ve run Win 2000 defrag, 4 times since Friday.  Defrag tells me that I have 20-21% free space, but it is unable to show me much "free space", graphically.  I used Windows backup to get all of my files on to an external hd. I know that if I nuke my hard drive, I can restore all of my source code, but that I’d still need to spend 1 or more days re-installing all of my compilers and other tools. Any suggestions? —Mike Timpe

Defrag should be able to work with 20% space free, but that’s getting close to the lower limit: Defrag needs *at least* 15% free towork properly. If you have large files, Defrag may not be able to shuffle things around well enough to do a good job. (See "Hidden File Foils Defrag" )

Because you have a full backup on a fast medium (an external drive), you might try this: Back up several of your largest folders to the external drive. (Things like the entire "My Documents" folder and subfolders would be a good place to start.) Then, with the folders safely stored in backup, erase the original folders on the main hard drive. This will open up a lot of space on the hard drive, and should let Defrag work properly.

When the drive is suitably defragged, restore the folders you previously moved into backup. You should now have a nicely-defragged hard drive!


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Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.