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Tweaking Your PC: Getting the Last Mile Out of Your Hardware Part 2 of 4 (Page 1/4)

Posted: September 23, 1999
Written by: Keith "Farrel" McClellan

Originally Printed in PC Gamer's Ultimate Hardware Bible, an Imagine Media Publication. All rights reserved. Reprinted with Permission.

Hard Drive Tweaks

The swap file is one of the most important files on your hard drive because programs are constantly accessing it. Windows doesn't handle this file very efficiently, so taking control of it out of the OS's hands is to the users' benefit. To do this, go to the Control Panel (Start, Settings, Control Panel) and start the System applet. Click on the Performance tab and then click on the Virtual Memory button. Click on the "Let me specify my own virtual memory settings" button, select a hard disk, and enter a minimum and maximum value. I recommend values between 128 and 256 Mb, as long as both settings (minimum and maximum) are the same to keep Windows from resizing it. It is generally recommended that you defragment your hard drive before creating a permanent swap file, particularly in Windows 95.

Scandisk and Disk Defragmenter are two of the most important utilities in Windows. Scandisk corrects most data errors that it finds on the hard disk, and Disk Defragmenter rewrites the information on the hard drive so that it is contiguous. When you copy a file to the hard disk, the hard drive fills up the first available it can find. If the file is too large for that chunk of space, it will break up the file and place some of the information in another location. Reassembling they program files for execution can slow the system down by as much as 20%. If you are using Windows 98, Disk Defragmenter can also rearrange the program files so that that the ones that are used most (the swap file followed by program executables) are on the outside (the faster portion) of the drive.

Begin by running a standard Scandisk of all of the systems hard drives - to correct any errors - and then start up Disk Defragmenter. Select the "All Hard Drives" and run the program. This process may take several hours but should immensely increase disk performance. If you are using Windows 98, before starting click on the Settings button and make sure to check the Rearrange Program Files box.

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