Defragmenting on a regular basis isn’t the only thing to overall system performance, but it’s a major factor. Fortunately there are some free tools that do a good job of it. Unfortunately they don’t come with Windows.
Here’s how to automatically defragment your system and your registry.
You can defragment the registry using PageDefrag, a utility by Mark Russinovich of WinNT Magazine fame. I’ve been known to set it to defragment the registry and page file at boot time; after the first time it doesn’t add much to the boot time at all. And XP can still get itself defragmented and booted faster than NT4 usually could manage to boot.
I talked a few weeks ago about DIRMS, a command-line defragmenter. I still like it. I recommend that you schedule a defrag at sometime you won’t be using the computer, like 4 AM. It’s easy to do with any version of Windows using the AT command.
at 4:00 /every:Monday dirms c -q
The AT command requires the scheduler service to be running. It does not require Internet Explorer 4.0 or newer to be installed, so it’ll run on NT4 boxes that only have the default IE 2.0 installed. If you want to run on additional days, separate it with a comma.
Now if DIRMS would just sort files by access date when it defragments, it would be the ultimate defragmenter.
Update: I don’t like DIRMS anymore. It failed me once big-time, and then I found something better.