How to properly defrag in windows XP and improve performance..the better way

13 04 2010

I’m sure you’re all aware of the importance of a monthly/yearly maintenance of your hard drive,

In my experience to achieve the best performance from those fragmented hours it’d be wise to follow along the tips for a better performance of your xp machine,

You’ll notice great improvement in performance of application with large file system I/O

After all today biggest bottle-neck in achieving good performance is the speed of storage (Hard Drives)

Preperation (or De-fragmenting more files takes more time)

So make sure you clean unnecessary disk space hogging files,
you can see these places for good “Shift+DEL meat” :

  1. Start button > Run… > %temp% > OK > Delete all the files you can there (also try %windir%\Temp)
  2. Start > Run > appwiz.cpl (add or remove programs panel) > see if there’s something on the list you recognize as un-needed and > click on the item and choose “Uninstall”
  3. Run the disk cleanup utility from Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup
  4. Time to empty that ol’ recycle bin!

These steps should clear some files that we don’t want to be De-fragmented, let’s carry on..

Enter the Zone

Next we will Start windows with as less programs as possible,
The reason why we want to do that is to make sure less files are in use and in return are locked to changes made by the defrag process,

Two ways of doing that are:
** browsing the internet is not a recommended action at this point!

  1. Using Safe Mode (click F8 when the computer starts until a menu shows up and choose “Safe Mode”
  2. Using MSConfig utility from the “Run..” panel, there you can set it to selective startup and un-check all check marks except for “System Services” item, then go into the “Services” tab and check “Hide all Microsoft services” and click the “Disable all” button, click ok and restart into a “cleaner” (processes wise) desktop
  1. Start the “Disk Defragmenter”
    Start > Run… > %SystemRoot%\system32\dfrg.msc
  2. Choose the volume you wish to defrag and click “Defragment” (it’s usually C:)
  3. When done you’ll be shown a report of items the defragmenter was not successful to defrag, View the report to see what files are left to defrag and how many fragments they contain, we will return to this list in the next step


Post-DeFrag actions

Time for some surgical defrag on specific OS or application files

  1. Download the single file defrag utility called “Contig
  2. In order to be able to run the utility from any Command Prompt window we will extract the file named Contig.exe to c:\windows\System32
  3. Open the report saved in step 3.3 and see what files are left and the number of fragments on each of them
  4. This is where experience and knowledge come into place, Say I was experiencing slowness in adobe premiere i would look for files under “c:\program files\Adobe”,
    when you know what files you’re interested in head over to the next step
  5. Step into command prompt and use Contig followed by the file’s name and path,
    e.g. Contig C:\Lotus Notes\Data\mail.nsfTip If you’re interested in using contig on multiple files in a folder then use the -s parameter and provide the path to the file followed by *.* (all files) or *. (files of certain extension, like DLLs),

    e.g. contig -s c:\program files\adobe\*.dll

Done? let’s bring things back to normal
  1. If you used safe mode to perform the Defrag simply restart your PC, it should load to the normal configuration,
  2. If you used the MSConfig utility you should run it again only this time choose
    ”Normal startup” and click on the OK button


have any questions or additional tips
then feel free to let us know in your comments!
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