File Optimization

Fragmentation occurs every time you create new files, install programs and delete files and programs from your system.  When your files are fragmented, it takes your system longer to find all the data for the associated program or file being requested. This is because pieces of the requested file(s) are scattered all over the hard drive instead of being group together in succession.

To combat fragmentation you use a Defragmentation program. The Windows OS comes with a defrag program, but I honestly prefer the http://auslogics.com/en/software/disk-defrag/download. You can also check out http://www.techsupportalert.com/dr/best-free-disk-de-fragmenter.htm  for alternative defrag solutions.  No matter which solution you go with, you will come out ahead. I recommend defragmenting your system at least once per month, I actually run mine once per week. The added benefit to defragmenting your drive on a regular basis is that you will increase the overall life of your drive as it will not have to work as hard to find requested data.

Now, let’s talk about temporary files! I have seen people with temporary folders exceeding 1GB of data! Their machine was beyond slow at that point. Here’s the deal, Windows does not clean Temporary files for you automatically by default. So, files accumulate there over time if not removed. These files include parts of auto saves, program setups and other files.  A simple way to check what you have in your temp folder is by clicking your start button, click Run, type in %temp% and hit enter.

You could just select everything in there and hit delete, but there are downsides to this. For one, some files are in use and will cancel out your delete command once that file is hit. Another possible downside is that older versions of Internet Explorer kept system folder in the temp directory. The last possible downside is potential for program to exist there that you don’t want deleted. There are 2 ways that the last one happens. Either you placed files there on purpose for storage, or a setup program that leaves files there and does not finish the install until you restart the PC. If you delete the files before your PC restarts and the installer still needs those files, then the installer will deliver an error and be unable to finish.

What I have done for personal use, and many computers in the work place is create a batch file that I place in startup to delete temp files. The only downside to this, is trying to remember to disable this item in startup when installing certain programs.  The bonus to this method though, is that you can catch a lot of files before they go into use with the system. An example of a batch file is as follows.

DEL %temp%\*.* /F /S /Q

To create the batch file open notepad, paste in the above line of code then select save as, change save type from text to all files then save your file as deletetemp.bat. To place this in your startup right click on the start button, select open, select programs, select startup and paste the deletetemp.bat file in that location.

The last item I’m going to talk about is the Page file. The Page File is also referred to as Virtual Memory. That is because it is a space on your Hard Drive that acts as available Memory (RAM) in tight situations. Basically, when you don’t have enough RAM, you are going to be using the Page File as a substitute. The problem with this is that hard drive access is a lot slower than RAM access. So when your machine has to use Virtual Memory, than it is running slower.  The absolute best solution is to install more RAM in your system, but it’s not always a solution.

A 32 bit OS like Windows 9x through Vista 32 bit editions (which most people run) can only address up to around 3.5Gb of memory. So if you are your maximum memory already it’s not a solution, of course with that much memory today, you shouldn’t have many problems, unless you run some very power hungry applications.  For most users, let’s just focus on what you can do for free. The one free thing you can do with the page file is to set it manually. The recommended maximum size of the page file should be 2.5x the amount of RAM you have in your system. With a brand new system, I always make the minimum and maximum size the same to avoid fragmentation in the page file.

One solution that may cost you money involves the use of a second hard drive. If you already have a second drive lying around then costs avoided! Simply setting your page file up on a separate drive from the drive running your OS will increase performance.  I have to warn you of a downside to setting your page file up on a separate drive, if the second drive crashes; you run the risk of your machine not starting up. If you 3 hard drives in addition to your OS drive then you could set up a RAID 5, but most people don’t have that option.

Before I end this segment, I should mention that using File Cleaners will help you out as well. I have used CCleaner with good results. You can find CCleaner and other file cleaners on http://www.techsupportalert.com/dr/best-free-file-cleaner.htm.

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