If you know much at all about computers you know that defragmenting the hard drive can speed up your system, especially if it has been a while since the computer was set up. Every version of Microsoft Windows on the market today includes a defrag utility which defragments the hard drive. There are others available from a variety of software vendors as well. However, most of them don’t go all the way and therefore leave a lot of speed bogged down on the hard disc.
A hard drive is essentially a spinning disc that is read by an ultrasensitive head that detects what is on the disc as it spins by. The same head writes data to the disk. When the disc is empty, the head simply reads until it gets to the end of the current data, and then adds the new data in the blank space. If a file gets deleted, then the hard drive deletes that data creating a new blank space. The next time data is written to the hard drive, that space is filled in. If the amount of data that is being written is bigger than the space, then the drive writes whatever amount of data fits in the space, and then puts a pointer to where the rest of the file can be found, sort of like a newspaper that says, “Continued on Page 13." This is fragmentation. Logically, if the whole file can be read at once, that is faster than having to read some of the file, and then go find the rest of the file, and then read it.
The longer a computer is used, the more fragmented it becomes as files are constantly deleted and added until only a small percentage of the files are all in one continuous area. This causes the computer to become slower because every file takes longer to read.
Traditional defragmentation utilities help rectify the situation by taking the files that are split up and moving them to somewhere on the disc where they can be written in one piece. The most elementary example would be taking a file that is split in two and moving both parts to the end of the disc where there is enough blank space to write it all together. The program continues this process until as many files as possible can all be written together or defragmented. This greatly speeds up the computer because the files can be read faster.
However, more should be done. The way hard drives are read makes the data written on the outer parts of the circle faster to access than the data written on the inner parts of the circle. With this knowledge, a computer could run considerably faster if the most frequently accessed data was placed on the outer part of the hard drive. However, most defragmentation utilities simply put files into a single location on the disc without any consideration for where that place is.
Enter UltimateDefrag, a defragmenting utility that does just that. By examining the disc and taking advantage of Windows’ own layout.ini file, the utility not only puts all the files together, it puts the most commonly used files closer to the center of the disk. The best part is that the free edition does everything a normal computer needs to run at its fastest. Simply choosing the Auto setting will calculate an optimal ratio of high-use files to archive-type files. It then will both defragment and move the necessary files. Even better, setting the utilities resource usage to Auto means it will run as fast as the system can handle when nothing is happening on the computer, while restricting itself to less resources when the computer is actively being used.
The wife’s laptop computer had become intolerably slow. We assumed it was just too old to handle today’s programs. I was investigating whether to buy a new one or upgrade the memory when I learned about UltimateDefrag. I figured I would use it to give me some time to determine the best upgrade. However, after it had finished, the computer actually ran fast enough that now, we aren’t going to bother upgrading it. The best part is that by setting the resource usage setting to Auto, my wife was still able to jump back onto her laptop while the program was running and do something she had forgotten about previously without having to interrupt the defragmentation, or have to tolerate extreme slowness from the program running in the background.
Keep in mind that defragmenting a hard drive involves reading and writing the data, and a hard drive only has so much life-span, so constant defragmenting will wear out the drive before its time. However, quarterly use of UltimateDefrag will keep a system humming along at maximum speed.
The official web site for UltimateDefrag is