Mon Apr 13 11:16:46 PDT 2015

JkDefrag: A Free Utility to Defragment Your Windows Hard Drive and Speed Up Your PC

Accelerating Windows PC performance with JkDefrag - an article originally written for Associated Content

Have you noticed that the performance of a Windows machine declines with time? There are several reasons for this phenomenon. For example, as you add new programs to your Windows machine, the number of processes which the machine has to support will increase, and although a modern operating system like Windows XP or Vista is remarkably efficient at multitasking, eventually the increasing burden on the CPU becomes noticeable.

A particularly important cause of poor performance in Windows is the fragmentation of files across your hard drive. When the machine is new and the disk not completely filled, files will tend to be written on the disk such that they can be accessed with minimal effort by the hard drive. However, as your use of the machine continues, files will be written and deleted all across the surface of the hard drive, and this can result in your files being 'fragmented'. Although this sounds dangerous or painful, the major consequence will just be slow file access. The reason for this is that the reading head of the hard disk drive has to move around more to retrieve all the parts of your file when requested. Imagine that your file is the complete works of Shakespeare and the reading head is a librarian in a library. In the interests of saving the librarian time and space when saving Shakespeare's plays (your file), each volume is placed wherever there is a space on the bookshelves. Now when you want to access the complete file, the librarian visits each of the carefully recorded shelves in the library to reassemble the complete works.

While this is not problematic, it can be slow. If you have small files, and reading files from disk is not a bottleneck for you, then file fragmentation may not be a significant concern.

But, fragmentation can affect everything on your PC too. The temporary files which Windows needs can become excessively fragmented, as well as files that are parts of program installations, and so on.

Fortunately, you can easily reverse the effects of file fragmentation by 'defragmenting' your hard drive. The procedure is straightforward, in principle at least! In effect, you shuffle the books in the library so that you can place each file's parts sequentially.

The officially recommended approach to defragmentation is to find your hard drive in the Windows Explorer, right-click on it and select Properties, then under Tools, select DeFragment Now...

I have to admit that I have not had much success with this approach. For me, the problem has simply been that this basic defragmentation process takes too long to complete. If you have a faster hard drive than I, then you may find that this built-in Windows defragmentation is all that you need.

I prefer to use JkDefrag ( This is a free open source program that makes use of the standard operating system calls to defragment files on your hard disk. If you visit the site you will find a downloadable zip file for your specific type of Windows (either 32 or 64 bit) and once you have that zip file on your machine you will find within it several simple executable files. The simplest approach is to simply run JkDefrag.exe. This will run the defragmentation process, no installation is required, and you will see a graphical window indicating the state of progress. The defaults work very well for the program, but if you are interested there is also good documentation, so you can delve into the details of the algorithm and its strategy and the tune the defragmentation for your particular needs.

You will probably want to turn off virus scanners prior to conducting the defragmentation, as these programs monitor disk access and will magnify the amount of work that your machine will need to do during defragmentation. As you are going to be without virus protection, you should probably also take the machine off the internet, not check email and so on while the defragmentation is underway.

At this point you might want to reflect on the fact that file fragmentation is significantly less problematic for Linux and Mac users. This is because the file systems in use in these operating systems do not store files in close proximity to one another making the likelihood of having to separate parts of a given file much lower. This effects performance a little, but makes fragmentation unlikely. As always there is a tradeoff and the consequence of the tradeoff for Windows users is the need to occasionally defragment.

However, JkDefrag is fast, and you will soon have your disk and files neatly organized, and your PC running faster.

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Posted by ZFS | Permanent link | File under: general
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