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2001 Jul 31 16:16

Windows Built-in Disk Tools

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The following is a description of how to use Windows95/98/etc's built-in disk tools to scan your hard disk for errors and defragment your hard disk. These are necessary steps to do before attempting to split (or 'partition') a hard disk so that you can install Linux alongside Windows, creating a "dual-boot" system.

Screenshots were created by Kevin Szaflik for his How To Speed Up Your Computer tips page. They are used here with permission.

Step 1 - Close all Programs and Screensavers

Quit all running programs, disconnect from the Internet, quit all virus scanners, turn off all MP3 players, disable all screensavers.

Seriously... these kinds of programs interfer with the processes below, especially the disk defragmenter (which is very fussy, and will continuously restart from scratch if any other programs do anything to the hard disk!)...

Step 2 - Get to your hard disk

['My Computer' Icon] Doube-click the "My Computer" icon. If you renamed it and/or changed its icon (or your Windows desktop's theme), it may look different, of course.

Step 3 - Launch the tools

[List of drives, including C:]

Locate your C: Drive, and right-click it. A menu will appear. Select the "Properties..." option, and then select the "Tools" tab at the top of the window that appears:

[Properties window, with 'Tools' tab]

Step 4 - Scandisk

"Scandisk" is a tool which checks a hard disk for errors (both in the filesystem managed by Windows, as well as the physical surface of the disk).

Select it from the "Tools":

[Tools: Scandisk button]

You will be asked which drive to scan, and how to scan it. We suggest the "Thorough" test, which takes a very long time, but checks the drive for physical errors.


When you're done, you'll see a summary of the scan:

[Scan results]

Step 5 - Disk Defragmenter

This is the most important step to do before attempting to partition ("divide") your hard disk to create a dual-boot (Windows/Linux) system.

While you use your computer, you (and Windows) create and delete many files. As files are deleted, gaps appear. New files become discontiguous; the data on the disk is 'fragmented.'

As a simple analogy, imagine your hard disk as a 1000-page book with only 500 pages worth of text, and many blank pages and gaps between sentences. "Defragmenting" your hard disk is like consolodating all of the text in this book to the first 500 pages, leaving the last 500 pages blank and ready for more text. Or, in this case, for a copy of Linux!

In the "Tools" section of your drive's "Properties" window, now select the "Defragment" tool:

[Tools: Defrag]

You'll be given some brief statistics. Start the deframenter:

[Defrag setup]

As the defragmenter tool runs, you'll see a progress bar. Defragmentation takes a long time, so be patient!

[Defrag progress]

If you click "Show Details", you can watch as the data is moved around your drive:

[Defrag details]

Step 6 - Shut down and come to the Installfest!

Once these steps are complete, shut down your Windows system. Any further use will cause more disk fragmentation, and you'll end up sitting around doing nothing during the Installfest while waiting for your disk to defragment again!

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