Have you uncovered the secret to a faster drive yet? It's removing unnecessary files and defragging your drive. I've got the tools and tricks, so read on...
The Hassle: I ran the Windows Disk Defragmenter, but when I tried another defragging tool, it said that my drive was still mostly fragmented. Which one should I believe?
The Fix: Windows, right? Please. For one thing, the Windows tool misses Restore Points - files that are created and deleted each day, take up 13MB each (on my PC), and are scattered all over the drive. Also, third-party tools permit you to decide how to defrag - say, by packing the files tighter.
One defragger I recommend is Golden Bow Systems' Vopt 8. This program is compatible with Vista and XP, and it defrags Restore Points. Among Vopt's neat extras are tools for deleting temp files; a slick feature that closes unnecessary apps, including Windows Services; and a way to automatically defrag multiple drives and then shut down the system. Get a trial at www.vopt.com/nuvopt8.htm.
No matter which program you use, get a better defrag with these simple tricks:
• Defrag early and often. Theoretically, defragging improves performance. PC World's lab hasn't found that to be consistently true. But here at Bass International labs, it's a different story. I didn't defrag my drive for six months and had thousands of fragmented files scattered about my hard drive. After defragging, my system seemed faster.
• Open applications don't get defragged, so close them all before you begin. Ditto for tools that reside in the system tray.
• Delete Temporary and Internet cache files using Cleaner, a free tool.
Quick Tip: No matter how neat you are, I guarantee your drive has duplicate files. Ferret them out with Duplicate File Finder. It's free (www.funduc.com/dupfiles.htm).
The Hassle: I have a huge file (hiberfil.sys) on my drive. I can't delete it, and it doesn't move when I defrag my system. What gives?
The Fix: That monster is a Windows file created automatically if you've ever closed down your PC while in Hibernate mode. So here's a good way to get rid of it. From Control Panel, choose Power Options, then select the Hibernate tab and uncheck the Enable Hibernation check box. Click OK when done. If you want to use Hibernate after defragging, repeat these steps above and check the Enable Hibernation check box.
The Hassle: I was playing around with a program that examines my hard drive and saw tvDebug.log, a gargantuan 2GB file. What's the file for, and can I delete it?
The Fix: It bugs me no end that ZoneAlarm stores log files that can grow into useless behemoths and slow down defragging. (They're stored in the Windows/Internet Logs folder.) Deleting the files is a pain because I can't do it while ZoneAlarm is running. Since I'd rather not close that program, I use a little batch file to do the job for me automatically. Get my zipped file with a how-to and batch file at find.pcworld.com/56149.
FIND COLOSSAL FILES ON YOUR HARD DRIVE
Windirstat is a nifty tool that creates a graphical depiction of the contents of your hard drive; it's ideal for finding big files. Windirstat (available free at windirstat.info) scans your drive and produces a treemap showing each file as a coloured rectangle proportional to the file's size - for example, a big purple rectangle on the left filled with small rectangles is a slew of MP3 files; a green blob on the right signifies images. Click on a file name in the left panel to see where that file is on the colour grid below. To jump to a file, select a large block on the colour grid for it. Toolbar buttons let you zoom in on a cluster, copy a path, open the file, and more.