If you have used your computer for a long period of time you will eventually experience a hard disk error. These errors are much more serious than most software problems and complete hard drive failure will usually render your computer useless. Some common errors are:
No fixed disk present
Fatal Error – Cannot access
Hard Disk Tools
It is always difficult to correct these problems. Often you will have to obtain professional help to recover data . For this reason maintenance, on a regular basis, is very important. Windows XP is equipped with two tools that will do regular hard drive maintenance. This helps to keep the computer in good condition. The applications are Disk Defragmenter and Disk Cleanup.
Over a period of time, parts of some files are stored all over the hard drive wherever space is at hand. These fragmented files slow down your computer by increasing the data access time. In order to read the fragmented file, the head of your hard drive has to move rapidly all over the drive which may at some point cause damage to it .
Disk Defragmenter which comes with Windows XP selects all of the noncontiguous file sections and rearranges them to reduce the number of different sections or to restore the file completely. This improves the data access time, and reduces the load on the drive, thus improving performance.
To run Disk Defragmenter open Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Disk Defragmenter. In the window, select the volume that you want to defragment and click on the button.
To prevent problems from ocurring during defragmentation, it is a good idea to work in Safe Mode. Select F8 at startup and choose the Safe Mode option. In Safe Mode, your computer starts up with only the basic processes and services. This allows the Disk Defragmenter to run faster and more effectively.
Disk Cleanup Tool
The accumulation of a large number of unwanted files not only clutters up the computer, but may cause damage. You can perform a manual search for unwanted files but this is not an advisable method. Windows XP has a Disk Cleanup tool that automates cleaning up the hard drive. Using Disk Cleanup you can empty the Recycle Bin and remove these items from your system:
1. Unwanted Programs
2.Unwanted Windows Components
3.Temporary Internet Files
4.Downloaded Program Files
5.Temporary Windows Files
To start using this tool , click on Start-> All Programs-> Accessories-> System Tools-> Disk Cleanup.
In addition to the above, you should use other maintenance tools such as antivirus, anti-spyware, and registry cleaner applications to keep your hard disk free from unwanted material. Your antivirus and anti-spyware programs must be regularly updated with the latest virus definitions and used regularly to remove malicious files. Viruses and spyware will copy numerous useless files to the hard drive, cluttering it up. This may also cause serious damage.
Over a period time, the system registry becomes fragmented and bloated with unwanted data, slowing down your computer and affecting the hard drive. To prevent this you should use a good registry cleaner to regularly scan for unnecessary files and to defragment it.
In summary the best way to prevent these problems is to do regular preventive maintenance. Additionally, you should also regularly backup all of your critical files on an external drive or other storage platform. If the hard drive fails, you will be able to recover your data from this backup.
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