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Optimizing drive performance in XP

Steps to make drives go faster.


Optimizing drive performance in XT
Louis Columbus

Apart from the processors in your Windows XP system, the disk drives are by far the most important components for increasing overall system performance. This tip, excerpted from InformIT, offers some ideas on improving disk-drive performance on your XT clients.

Apart from the processors in your Windows XP system, the disk drives are by far the most important components for increasing overall system performance. Part of any effort to get the highest possible performance from your disk drives is to get any errors discovered and resolved. That's the goal of the first part of this article -- to give you the steps needed to troubleshoot any aspects of your disk drives that could hinder overall performance. The second part of the article details steps for defragmenting disk drives for greater overall performance.

When you defragment your disk drives, you're actually streamlining the process the processor will complete when it looks for data. Often, data is scattered throughout the physical locations of a disk drive over time, whereas the logical structure of the drive tracks the location of the data through tables. The greater the disconnect between logical and physical file locations, the greater the access time. Getting a greater consistency and predictability to the way your system finds data decreases the access time.

To get the best possible performance from the system, you need to make sure to get a virtual memory partition created first. This was detailed in the first article of this series, which explains how to create the PAGEFILE.SYS file that is used as virtual memory.

Defragmenting drives

As a disk drive has files added and deleted from it, the drive becomes fragmented, often with many parts of the same physical file scattered across a disk drives' several platters. When a workstation has a high degree of fragmentation, the overall system performance suffers. Using the tools in Windows XP, you can complete a defragmentation of each disk on your system using the specific steps here. If you're an administrator and want to complete a defragmentation on another system, these steps will also help:

Start Computer Management. If you want to manage a remote system, right-click Computer Management in the console tree and then select Connect to Another Computer.

Use the Select Computer dialog box to select the networked computer you want to work with. You'll find the Disk Defragmenter in the Storage area of the Computer Management screen.

To defragment a drive, click on it after selecting Disk Defragmenter from the left side of the screen. A graphical representation of the disk is next shown.

Click Analyze. The disk's contents are read and analyzed. Once the entire disk has been read over, the Disk Defragmenter recommends a course of action for the disk. If there are more fragments than the threshold amounts, then the utility will prompt you to defragment the disk. If not, you'll be told that the disk does not need to be defragmented.

To defragment the disk, click Defragment. The progress of the defragmentation is shown in the Display area. Once finished, the Disk Defragmenter will also provide a listing and report of the results.

To read the article from which this tip is excerpted, click over to InformIT. You have to register there, but it's free.

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