Fragmentation takes place when the operating system is unable to allocate enough contiguous space to store a complete file. It divides the file up into smaller sections and stores these in the gaps between existing files. These gaps exist because small files have been deleted or because a large file has been deleted and a smaller one stored in the same place.
Fragmented files take much longer to process than complete ones, due to the time taken to move the disk's read heads between the different sections. Remember, disk read speed is much slower than the CPU speed in any case, so anything that slows it down further can have a major impact on performance.
Most operating systems provide a disk defragmenter utility. Defragmentation restores a drive to its original speed. Defragmenting a disk can take a long time, depending on the size of the disk, the number of files, the degree of fragmentation and the availability of system resources, so you should always analyse disks before defragmenting them to decide whether or not defragmentation is worthwhile.
You can find out more about Defragmentation at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defragment
In Windows XP You can check for fragmented files and folders as follows:
- Click Start, point to All Programs > Accessories > System Tools, then click Disk Defragmenter.
- Click the volume that you want to analyze, then click Analyze to begin the analysis.
- Review the results of the analysis after it is complete by clicking View Report.
Next: Windows XP Defragmenter