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How do I defragment a hard drive on Windows XP?

Question: How do I defrag a hard drive on my Windows XP? In my home, I am using Windows 2000 and I love it, but I’ve had two occasions where I visited a friend who was using XP. I could not find the defragmentation program. I appreciate your point that frequent defragmentation is unnecessary, but over a period of one or two years, occasional defragmentation has its place. Once at a machine at a motel lobby, I found that defragmentation program but was unable to execute it because I was not the administrator. Why would defragmentation demand administrative privileges?

Getting at the defragmenter is actually pretty easy in Windows XP. We’ll talk about this and some other issues related to defragmenting.

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Defragging in Windows XP

Fire up Windows Explorer (clicking the Windows key plus the letter E is usually the quickest way to get to it). Right-click on the drive you want to defragment. Click Properties and then click Tools. Inside of Tools, you’ll see the defragmentation program listed there and you can just click on it.

The other approach is to run the Command prompt and then type the command “defrag” followed by a space and then C: or whatever drive it is that you want to defragment. That then should also run the defragmenter from the command line.

Why does it require administrative access?

The issue here is that defragmentation operates at a low-level on the hard drive. Much lower than typical applications that are just opening and managing files. I believe that Windows restricts this to administrators simply for security.

Theoretically, those low-level APIs could probably be used for some malicious purpose. So, by preventing random people from defragmenting a drive, they’re actually preventing access to those APIs from malware or other types of software that might come in and misuse them.

But that’s just an educated guess on my part. Regardless of the reason administrative access may be required.

What else can I do to do defragment?

Another approach to defragmenting is to go and get the free program called Defraggler. You run it just like any other program and it fires up a defragmenting interface. Many people find it slightly more thorough and faster and it has essentially a prettier interface that makes it easier to see what’s happening. It’s actually more entertaining and informative to look at while the defragmenting is going on.

And again, depending on how your drives are being used, I agree. Defragmenting absolutely has its place. Depending on how you’re using it, it may be more frequent than others, but you definitely want to defragment those drives every so often.

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