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Performance and Reliability Tips

One of the most common causes of frustration with computers is speed, or rather the lack of it. With a little routine maintenance these annoyances can be largely eliminated. Similarly some routine procedures can reduce the likelihood of catastrophic failures. Here are some tips & tricks that will help to improve performance & reliability.

Exactly what it sounds like, files are dispersed all over your hard drive in non-contiguous blocks causing frantic hard drive activity when trying to read or write data. This can take take several forms and different types of fragmentation will require different actions to resolve them, ordinary files can be defragmented whilst the computer is booted into Windows, MFT fragmentation, Pagefile fragmentation and SQL index fragmentation require handling in different ways.

File Fragmentation
Ordinary file fragmentation can be eliminated simply by periodically running the Windows defrag utility. We have found that weekly file defragmentation is more than sufficient.

Pagefile Fragmentation
The Pagefile is Windows virtual memory and is one of the files that can't be defragmented using Windows defrag.  Microsoft provide the utility PageDefrag for doing this. Alternatively you can acheive defragmentation by setting the minimum & maximum sizes of the pagefile to 0 (or disabling the pagefile) then running defrag, once defrag has completed set the pagefile back to an appropriate size or re-enable. It shouldn't be necessary to frequently defrag the pagefile.

MFT Fragmentation
The Master File Table tells Windows where all the files are located on your machine. BCUpdate2.exe is required to defragment this under XP, details can be found at;en-us;320397 - NOTE:- This procedure requires the machine to be booted from a separate disk with the utility on it, it cannot be performed from within Windows. A severely fragmented MFT can also cause the NTLDR missing error message during boot.

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Last Updated
7th of March, 2011

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