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Windows Vista™ Inside Out by Craig Stinson, Carl Siechert, Ed Bott

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Defragmenting Disks for Better Performance

On a relatively new system with a speedy processor and plenty of physical memory, hard disk performance is the single biggest bottleneck in everyday operation. Even with a zippy hard disk, it takes time to load large data files into memory so you can work with them. The problem is especially noticeable with movies, video clips, DVD burning projects, databases, ISO image files, and virtual hard disks, which can easily take up multiple gigabytes, sometimes in a single file.

On a freshly formatted disk, files load fairly quickly, but over time, performance can degrade because of disk fragmentation. To understand how fragmentation works, it helps to understand the basic structure of a hard disk. The process ...

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