I can think of very few things in this world that are more irritating than a slow computer. While all of the other components of your computer may be working just fine, your hard drive may be what’s holding your computer back.
DeFrag Your Hard Drive
To increase the speed (more correctly, the efficiency) of your hard drive, the standard recommendation is to "defrag" (defragment) the drive. This process is completed by specialized software that looks at the physical location of the files on the hard drive and attempts to optimize those files so that the computer doesn't have to search around so much to find the information it needs. A recommended and no cost defrag program is MyDefrag (http://www.mydefrag.com/). This type of program should be run at least once every other week or so to keep the system running optimally. The first time the program is executed, it will run for a very long time. Subsequent executions should be considerably shorter.
Delete Temporary Files
Deleting temporary files is another good way to increase hard drive speed. Your internet browsers stores temporary files on your hard drive that are often unnecessary. You can also remove files in your Recycle Bin that are stored on your hard drive. Microsoft has written a specialized application and included it with Windows to help with this. There is a nice walkthrough on the Microsoft site. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/delete-files-using-disk-cleanup#delete-files-using-disk-cleanup=windows-7
Partition Your Hard Drive
Partitioning your hard drive into multiple volumes has many benefits. It reduces the risk of all your files being corrupted by a virus. It keeps your hard drive organized, by storing frequently used programs and files near each other. Most relevant to this article, it helps boost the speed of your hard drive. Partitioning your hard drive enables short stroking technology, which minimizes head repositioning delays. While this greatly speeds up access times and improves I/O performance, it results in reduced capacity, so it may not be the best option for you if you have a hard drive with already limited capacity. Tom’s Hardware provides a nice article on short stroking with examples.
If All Else Fails, Upgrade!
If that's still not enough, then other hardware issues could be affecting the drive speed. Learn more about your current hard drive and see how it stacks up to current hard drives on the market, or the hard drives that are put into top selling computers and laptops. Upgrading to a high efficiency 7,200 RPM drive will likely speed up your system performance and upgrading to an SSD or hybrid drive can make even an older system lightening quick. Replacing hard drives is a pretty advanced topic, though, so we might not want to tackle that. However, we will cover how to replace your hard drive in a later post. In the meantime, here’s a handy video for removing your hard drive from a laptop computer – please note that not all laptops are the same, so don’t follow this video’s advice verbatim. It's also typically better to follow the manufacturer's instructions, or better yet, let a professional do it for you. It's good to sometimes have some visual reference though.