Don't Forget to Defrag Your Harddrive
The constant writing, deleting, and creating of files that occurs on a hard drive results in bits and pieces of files being scattered in different locations. This means that the CPU in a computer must wait until the hard drive finds and re-assembles all the pieces before it can continue working which can impact overall computer performance. That is why using a defragmentation (or defrag) program is important. And continuing in the spirit of this section of the Infolific site and previous recommendations for freeware, I'm going to cover two free defrag software options that most Windows users have available to them.
Microsoft Disk Defragmentation
Depending on the version of Windows you have, you can use the defrag software from Microsoft. Simply right-click on a drive letter in Windows Explorer and select Properties and then Tools. There should be a Defragment Now button at the bottom of the pop-up window. I recommend using the analyze feature first to see if defragmenting is necessary.
For more advanced users, there's PageDefrag from SysInternals. This tool was specifically created to defrag files that are open for exclusive access such as the Windows paging file and the Windows registry. This tool also gives you the option of automatically defragmenting the pagefile on every reboot. This will probably increase the time Windows requires to start, but could improve performance once the process is complete.
Defragmenting your hard drive is one of the more dangerous maintenance activities. This is because the hard drive is making a lot of writes to special files. Should you lose power or somehow terminate the process, you run the risk of losing access to your hard drive's data. For that reason, having a full backup is a good idea.