Performance management includes a number of factors. But it's always true that if you want to improve performance of a system, it's a good idea to start with the slowest component, improve its performance and then move on to the next slowest, etc.
And what is the slowest component of a computer? The disk drive, of course. Even though the drives have gotten much, much faster over the past five years or so, they are still slow compared with the rest of the computer. You're talking access times in milliseconds instead of nanoseconds.
It's like having a drag parachute attached to an airplane. Improve the aerodynamic characteristics of the chute and the plane will go a lot faster.
You already know that there are several ways to improve the performance of a disk drive, but perhaps the easiest is to defragment it. You already know that, too, but do you do it? There are several tools that will allow you to do this, and make it easier to boot.
Windows 2000 includes a defrag program, a significant improvement over NT. It was developed by Executive Software, the publishers of Diskeeper, which is in its 6.0 release. Diskeeper was the first of the NT defraggers, before Microsoft decided to put the software into the operating system.
If you want to use the Microsoft defragger, you can just right-click on the My Computer icon on the desktop, and choose Manage on the pop-up menu that appears. This brings up the management console for the computer, where you can expand the storage-management icon and click on Defragment. It's pretty self-explanatory after that, but you can read a description of how to defrag at http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q300/9/78.ASP.
There are limitations on the Microsoft defragger, chief of which is its lack of a scheduler. If you truly want to manage performance, rather than just respond to complaints, then you should figure out an optimum time for defragging and follow that schedule. Third-party tools, such as SpeedDisk, Diskeeper PerfectDisk and Defrag Commander, allow you to do the scheduling. We're not recommending any of these third-party products, but you should be aware of them.
Defrag your disk, and you'll see some immediate performance improvements. I have had my Windows 2000 Professional notebook computer for just about a year now. The disk is 11 percent fragmented, and I can feel the thing slowing down. I'm going to defrag tonight. Stay tuned.
About the author: David Gabel is Executive Technology Editor for TechTarget.
This was first published in September 2001