Disk Cleanup vs. Disk Defragmenter Explained

Do-It-Yourself Tech

Microsoft Windows XP (and some earlier versions of Windows) comes with a couple tools that can help you optimize your computer in such a way that it runs more quickly. They are called “Disk Cleanup” and “Disk Defragmenter.” Here’s what to know about them:

Disk Cleanup:

Found by clicking on Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup


Once clicked on, it takes a minute to “calculate” the space you will gain by cleaning up files you no longer use. It’s best to run when no other programs are running. Once the calculating is done, it brings up a window that looks something like the picture to the left (click on the image(s) to enlarge).

The picture shows those files that are usually unimportant and that need to be cleaned up from time to time. Once cleaned up, your computer will have more free space.

Disk Defragmenter:

Found by clicking on Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter


“Defragmenting” is not as intuitive as “Cleaning Up.” Think of a desk full of scattered papers, which will be ordered neatly in filing cabinets when “defragmented.” As you install and uninstall programs onto your computer, parts of the hard drive are used sporadically causing certain files to be “fragmented” or disjointed from one another. Defragmenting takes all your files and organizes them in the way that the computer can access them most easily.

You should defrag your hard drive more often if you install and uninstall programs regularly. Otherwise, it’s the type of procedure that probably doesn’t need to be done more than twice a year. Also, if you click on the “Analyze” button first, Windows will tell you whether or not defragmentation is needed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.