Defragmentation..

This is a process which collects hard drive clusters having the same name tag together into contiguous blocks.

When data is saved, it is placed onto clusters, the basic unit of space on a hard drive. Each cluster is 4k in size and must contain data and a flag denoting the file name and running order to which the data belongs. This is important anyway, but even more so as file sizes become larger than 4k.

So, you instruct the system to save a large photo which is 400k in size, and Windows then has to find the space to put it. What happens next is that Windows starts to place the 4k chunks wherever they will fit,. It makes best use of disk space by NOT looking for a 400k contiguous block. This works well for space saving, but plays havoc when it comes to opening the full file.

Can you see why file access can be a bit slow and why it is necessary to occasionally defragment? Defragmentation does NOT remove all free spaces these days. It would be far too big a job because so many files are well in excess of the 4k cluster size, but it does collect all clusters with the same name tags and group them into contiguous blocks.

Don’t let the disk space fall below 25% free. Disk performance will suffer. As defragmenting does not create free space, consider uninstalling unused programs. If that doesn’t work for you, a new, larger hard drive is the only way to go.

Updates..

These can increase performance, add features and add security. Why would you not want them? They even come free of charge. Sometimes, they cause problems because they may not have been thoroughly tested, sometimes they cause problems because the system upon which they are installing has been messed up with bad utilities, but for 99.9% of the time, updates install without issues.

Look out for the ‘updates available’ icon in the notification area, and act on it at your earliest convenience. There is nothing to be gained by holding back on updates, but your system could be compromised if you do not update.

Registry cleaners..

You don’t need them and haven’t needed them since the demise of Windows 9 variants, and the only reason that Windows 9x needed to have the registry cleaned out is because it would reach its limit quite quickly, and it was a small limit. Microsoft’s Regclean 4 removed only the safest of entries and NEVER did a thorough cleaning job. Since Windows 2000, orphaned registry entries have been flagged to be ignored by the system and will NOT affect performance at all.

The registry can be corrupted, but it only happens if the user insists on installing non-compatible stuff. In my opinion, if the system tries to tell you that it doesn’t like what is being installed, let the system roll back and then forget about installing the old program. Look for a newer version or an laternative which is compatible.

If the registry is corrupted because the hard drive has errors on it and the registry just happened to be on the bad clusters, a registry cleaner is NOT going to help.

Malware removal..

What is malware? This is as good a short definition as I have seen anywhere..

“Malware, short for malicious software, is software used to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems”

Anti-virus solutions do a great job on a virus, but not other types of malware, especially the type that knocks on the door, looks safe enough, and is invited in. There is a lot of this type around, and the best way to deal with it is to be careful and look for signs. If you can’t do that, install and run a good malware remover. My preference is Malwarebytes, and you can find a link for the website in the Software links section. Install it and run it weekly

Keep your anti-virus program up to date, and the best way to do this is to use a free one. There is nothing wrong with ‘free’ when protecting a single computer that is used for general computing. If you go for a paid version, you will get many more features but you will have to learn how to get the best from them or you may end up with the worst, an intarnsigent computer.

Page files..

They do not exist purely to use up valuable hard drive real estate. Windows is not the only OS to use a page file. The page file is not part of some underhand Microsoft scheme to force you to go out and buy a larger hard drive.

The page file exists to help you, to extend your system beyond the set boundary of installed RAM. Data is placed in the page file if it is likely to be used again quickly but where storage in RAM would be a waste.

You should let Windows look after your page file and not try to squash it into a tiny corner. Say after me “System Managed is good.. system managed is good.. system managed is good”.

OK, now remember that Windows will install the page file in with itself and it does this for good reason. C drive is where all of the action is, and the hard drive heads will not have to move far in order to access the page file. Accessing the page file will incur a time penalty, but it will be small. Where a single, partitioned hard drive is installed, the page file should be left where Windows placed it originally.

Don’t be tempted to install an old small drive specifically for use as a pagefile. It may not waste good drive space, but it will be slower to react than a modern fast drive, so negating any speed advantage.