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 Defragging Drive May Work Best When Starting in Safe Mode 
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Post Defragging Drive May Work Best When Starting in Safe Mode
Defragging Drive May Work Best When Starting in Safe Mode
by: Sid Kato

The following is a question posed to Array Systems Inc. (, an IT outsourcing and Computer Network Support company serving Los Angeles:

"When attempting to defrag the C drive on my 333 E Machines PC using Windows 98 OS 6.1 edition, the first message I get is “Reading Drive Information. Defrag begins but will not go beyond 10 percent completion. Next a blank screen appears, th. This sequence recurs every 3 to 4 minutes."

What you’re experiencing is conflict/contention with another open program. When the defrag utility runs, it copies information (data, programs or files) from one area of your hard disk to a clean area. If a program is open or a file is being accessed by another program, the defrag utility will not copy it to the clean area. These programs probably are part of your startup process. For example, my startup process automatically opens my virus scan program so that when I get on the Internet I’m protected. If I want to run my defrag utility, I need to start my computer in safe mode.

Safe mode is a scaled down version of your Windows operating system and will bypass your startup process so that programs that are automatically turned on will not be initiated. You’ll notice a difference right away because your Windows desktop will look different and your icons will appear larger than normal. This is because the default screen resolution is larger than your normal settings.

For those who aren’t familiar with the defrag utility, let me take a few minutes to explain what what exactly it is. There are two programs you should run on a regular basis, which should be part of your disk maintenance program. These programs are disk defragmenter and scandisk.

I run my disk defrag once a quarter and my scandisk once a month. The disk defrag utility cleans up your hard disk to make it more efficient. Let me explain how your hard disk works and why it needs to be cleaned up periodically.

I’m writing my column using MS Word. When I open the file for my current column, I like to save it after 5-10 minutes of typing. When I save it, the Word document can’t be saved over the same spot on my hard disk. Therefore, a new spot on the hard disk must be found and the pointer (index) must be updated to reflect the new location. Sometimes, if the file is very large (novel or screen play), there isn’t enough clean space in one location so the file is broken up into several locations with several pointers. The old space is now unusable until the next defrag utility is run.

Sometimes, you’ll notice that your computer takes a long time to save a document because it is hunting around for some clean space. This is probably the No. 1 problem associated with computer performance. The defrag utility starts by copying all the files from the beginning of your hard disk to another location. Then it cleans the disk area and copies the current files back. It continues with each area/sector or your hard disk until it cleans the entire disk. This process can take up to eight hours, depending upon the size of your hard disk and the computer’s speed.

The next utility is called the scandisk. It resembles the defrag utility, but it updates only the pointer/index files. Every time a file is updated, the new location is updated in your index file. These files are the most active files on your computer because it tracks the location of everything. The scandisk also eliminates any corruption problems that have occurred when shutting down your computer improperly or when your computer hangs.

A well-maintained index also will increase the speed and efficiency of your computer.

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About The Author

Sid Kato is the president of Array Systems Inc. and author of the Daily Breeze "computer-wise" column. Array Systems is an IT Outsourcing and Computer Network Support company that aims to help small businesses throughout the greater Los Angeles area with all of their technology demands. In business for over 16 years, Sid knows where the pitfalls are.

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Fri Aug 03, 2007 9:22 am
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