How to Maintain a Hard Disk
A computer’s hard disk is used for the majority of storage requirements. It is important, therefore, to ensure that each hard disk on a computer is operating at peak efficiency.
Three tasks that maximize disk operations are detecting and repairing disk errors by using the Check Disk utility program; removing unused or unnecessary files and folders by using the Disk Cleanup utility program; and consolidating files and folders into contiguous storage areas using the Disk Defragmenter utility program.
To detect and repair disk errors using the Check Disk utility program, complete the following steps:
- Click the Start button on the Windows taskbar and then click Computer on the Start menu.
- When the Computer window opens, right-click the hard disk icon for drive C (or any other hard disk you want to select) and then click Properties on the shortcut menu.
- In the Properties dialog box, if necessary, click the Tools tab to display the Tools sheet. The Tools sheet contains buttons to start the Check Disk program, the Defragment program, and the Backup program.
- Click the Check now button to display the Check Disk dialog box.
- To do a complete scan of the disk and correct any errors that are found, place a checkmark in the “Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors” check box, and then click the Start button. Four phases of checking the disk being checked cannot be used for any purpose whatsoever; furthermore, once it has started, the process cannot be stopped. If the Check Disk program cannot check the disk because it is in use, you can schedule the disk check to run next time you start the computer.
- When the four phases are complete (this may take more than one-half hour, depending on the size of the hard disk and how many corrections must occur), a dialog box is displayed with the message, Disk Check Complete. Click the OK button in the dialog box.
After checking the disk, your next step can be to clean up the disk by removing any programs and data that are not required for the computer. To do so, complete the following steps:
- Click the General tab in the disk drive Properties dialog box to display the General sheet.
- Click the Disk Cleanup button in the General sheet to display the Disk Cleanup Options dialog box.
- The Disk Cleanup dialog box is displayed and contains a message that indicates the amount of space that can be freed up is being calculated.
- After the calculation is complete, the Disk Cleanup dialog box specifies the amount of space that can be free up and the files to delete, some of which are selected automatically. Select those items from which you wish to delete files.
- Click the OK button in the Disk Cleanup dialog box.
- A dialog box asks if you are sure you want to perform these actions. Click the Delete Files button. The Disk Cleanup dialog box illustrates the progress of the cleanup. When the cleanup is complete, the dialog box closes.
The next step in disk maintenance is to defragment all the files on the disk. When a file is stored on disk, the data in the file sometimes is stored on disk, the data in the file sometimes is stored contiguously, and other times is stored in a noncontiguous manner. When a file is stored in a noncontiguous manner, it can take significantly longer to find and retrieve data from the file. One of the more useful utilities to speed up disk operations, therefore, is the defragmentation program, which combines all files so that no files are stored in a noncontiguous manner. To use the defragmentation program, complete the following steps:
- If necessary, click the Tools tab in the Properties dialog box for the hard disk to be defragmented.
- Click the Defragment now button in the Tools sheet to open the Disk Defragmenter window. This window displayed the Disk Defragmenter schedule, when Disk Defragmenter was run last, and when Disk Defragment is scheduled to run next.
- Click the Defragment disk button to being the defragment process. During the defragmentation process, the Stop operation button replaces the Defragment disk button. The defragmentation process can consume more than one hour in some cases. You can cancel the operation at any time by clicking the Stop operation button in the Disk Defragmenter window.
- When the process is complete, the Defragment disk button will replace the Stop operation button.
- Click the Close button to close the Disk Defragmenter window.