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The disk cleanup, scan disk, and defrag disk system tools help make your hard drive run better and last longer. These functions can be compared to a car getting regular oil changes. As you use your computer to do more and better things, the Windows operating system decides where to put program and data fragments of information in spots called clusters. Clusters of the same program can become far apart making your hard drive work much harder than it could if clusters of the same program are closer together. This is what running the disk cleanup, scan disk, and defrag disk system tools do for your system. If you use your system all the time, you should do this at least once a week. If you do not use your system that much, you should run these programs at least a minimum of once a month.


Every time your system hangs or gets frozen, temporary files are created. Also, as you surf the Internet, download programs, etc. - more temporary files are created. Also you may delete word processing documents to the trashcan. To find this disk cleanup function, click on the "start" button, click on the "programs" option, click on the "accessories" option, click on "system tools" option, and then click on "disk cleanup". A window will open and lets you see all the temporary and other useless files you can get off your system. Check the boxes of all the files you want off your system, and then follow the prompts to run this function. This will also create more room on your hard drive (c:). Be sure not to do anything else on your system at this time.


After you run the disk cleanup system tool, you should run the "scan disk" function, which is found in the same place as the disk cleanup function. If you try to skip this function, and go directly to defragging your hard drive (c:), the program will usually tell you that the "scan disk" function needs to be run. Depending on the size of your hard drive, will determine how long this function will take. Again, be sure not to do anything else on your system at this time.


Once you have performed the above two functions, you are ready to run your "defrag" option which again is located on the same drop down menu as the disk cleanup and scan disk functions.

Many people get the error message that the "defrag" function has to restart over and over again due to programs running. There are always programs running in the background for Windows to operate properly. There are a couple of things you can try to help get through this function faster. One is to run this function in "safe mode". To get your computer system to run in "safe mode" you can hold down the "F8" key when booting up your computer or try holding down the "control key". Only the bare minimum of programs needed to run Windows, are running in the background when you are in "safe mode". Or if you are more adventurous, you can hold down your "alt, control, and delete" key once, to bring up a window showing all the programs running on your system and you can turn them off individually one by one. However, if you turn off the incorrect program, Windows will stop working and you will be frozen.

Again the larger your hard drive, the more time it will take to run this function. Click on the details button, while running this function and you can see how Windows are moving your little clusters around and how much has been completed.


See ResourceRecommendations. Feel free to add additional resources to these lists, but please follow the guidelines on ResourceRecommendations including ResourceRecommendations#Guidelines_for_Rating_Resources.


  • () ValHaring - 06 Oct 2002
  • <If you edit this page: add your name here; move this to the next line; and include your comment marker (initials), if you have created one, in parenthesis before your WikiName.>

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Topic revision: r2 - 2002-10-21 - ValHaring
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