fragmented Data LogoWelcome back to our site. Last time, here at Computer Repair Vancouver, we discussed how a computer’s hardware age can potentially lead to slowness. More specifically, we noted that a computer with limited unused RAM (random access memory) and hard drive space can become bogged down. Finally, we took a look at how to repair an old computer. We stated that you can generally either upgrade your parts or choose to buy a new computer.

Today we are going to discuss the third cause of a slow computer: unorganized data.

Unorganized Data

Unorganized data sounds analogous to a messy desktop. You know the desktop with hundreds of icons all over it. In actuality, though, unorganized data is generally not seen at the user level; rather, it is an underlying issue. So what exactly is unorganized data then? In order to discuss this concept we are going to need to know a little bit of background information.

At the most basic level computers store, on their hard drive, a bunch of ones and zeroes (binary). That’s it! If you were to open up your hard drive and examine it you wouldn’t find word documents, pictures, or music files. Just a bunch of ones and zeroes. Moving up a few levels, we find out that these ones and zeroes actually correspond to fragments (parts) of files. Confused yet? Let’s look at a simple example to clarify things.

Let’s say a Computer Repair Vancouver worker creates a file entitled “How to fix a slow computer” within Microsoft Word. In order for your computer to remember this information even when it is turned off, this file must be saved to your hard drive (ultimately as a bunch of one’s and zero’s). Now the obvious thing to do would be to pick a spot on your hard drive and write out the file right there. Unfortunately, this is not the way your PC does things. Rather, it may write a fragment (piece) of your file at the start of the hard drive, a fragment in the middle of the hard drive, and a fragment at the end of the hard drive (this is a fictitious example – but it illustrates the concept fairly well). The operating system then stores a bunch of information telling it where all these fragments reside (so it doesn’t lose any of the information).

Why, you might be asking, would it do something so convoluted? For efficiency sake! Let’s say you have had your hard drive for quite some time. Some files have been created and some have been deleted. Consequently, parts of the hard drive are full and parts of the hard drive are empty. Let’s say we try to install a new version of Microsoft Office which is 600 MB. If you needed to put all 600 MB in a row you would have a lot of trouble (since your hard drive might not have this much space in a row). Well, you might be thinking, why doesn’t the hard drive just reorganize everything? This is a good idea; however, your computer can’t constantly rearrange all of your data as this would grind your system to a halt. A simple file, folder, or program deletion would suddenly create an astronomical amount of work.

From the above discussion it may have become obvious that, over time, your data becomes more and more disorganized. A little bit of disorganization is not a bad thing; however, a lot of disorganization can lead to a slow computer. This is because your PC now has to search its hard drive for all of the bits and pieces of different files, folders, and programs. What is the solution to this problem? If you are thinking that the computer should, once in a while, organize its data then we have a job here for you at Computer Repair Vancouver because that is exactly correct.

In computing lingo this notion of disorganized data is called fragmentation. The way to solve this problem is through the use of a program which performs something called defragmentation.

Repair disorganized data

As noted above, one possible way to fix a slow computer is through defragmentation (the reorganizing of data). Luckily this particular solution is quite easy to perform, although it takes a bit of time to complete.

Here is how the professionals at Computer Repair Vancouver handle defragmentation

  1. Head over to Piriform’s website and download Defraggler (a free defragmentation program)
  2. Install Defraggler.
  3. Run Defraggler
  4. Click on the drive you want to defrag (likely your C: drive)
  5. Click on either the Defrag button or choose the Quick Defrag option. We recommend that you use the Defrag option as this will do a more thorough job. Just realize that it can take quite a while to defrag a computer.
  6. Wait until Defraggler completes.
  7. If you want, set up a schedule for Defraggler (under the Settings menu). You can tell it to automatically defrag daily, weekly, monthly etc.

It is useful to note that Window 7 actually comes with its own built in defragmenting tool, so if you don’t want to download Defraggler you can use it instead. Just take a look for it in your start menu.

What’s next?

If after defragmenting your computer continues to be exceedingly slow it is time to move onto the next step – checking your background and startup applications.

Come back to Computer Repair Vancouver in short order as we will be touching on how to find out what programs (and processes) are running behind the scenes as well as how to deal with those you do not need.