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Why does a computer slow down if the hard drive is full?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by computersarecool, Oct 28, 2012.

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  1. computersarecool

    computersarecool Thread Starter

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    Hi, I recently restored a slow computer for a friend. They said it was running slowly, and they were right. The hard drive was 100% full, so I ran disk cleanup, and that freed up some space. Then, I uninstalled programs that they did not need. That freed up a ton of space. I got the free space up to 50%. After I defragmented, the thing was faster than my new laptop. Im just curious, why did freeing hard drive space speed up the computer, and why does a full drive slow down the computer?
     
  2. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

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    1 Not enough room for windows to create a page file or too small of a page file.
    2 Excessive disk activity as it tries to find parts of files. When a drive is full, you cannot defrag the drive.
     
  3. computersarecool

    computersarecool Thread Starter

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    Why can't a full hard drive be defragmented?
    What is a page file?
    And thank you for replying so quickly :)
     
  4. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

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    Where would you move the files to when defragging?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paging
     
  5. computersarecool

    computersarecool Thread Starter

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    So, defragmenting a hard drive is like one of those sliding puzzles. There has to be at least one free area to slide the blocks to. The more free space, the easier it will be to solve it. So on a full hard drive, you can not move a file anywhere. If there was 1% free space, it would work. I do remember that when I first tried to defrag after disk cleanup, it said that it recommended that I have around 25% free space. I had 24%.
    Also, from what I understand from the article, paging means moving things to the memory to the hard drive if needed. If the hard drive is full, you run out of memory. Am I right about this?
     
  6. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

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    If the drive is full, windows cannot manage the page file correctly. No, it is not going to work with 1% free space; you need quite a bit more than 1%

    You are overthinking. When a drive is >60% full, you get a performance hit. The less free space, the greater the performance hit.
     
  7. computersarecool

    computersarecool Thread Starter

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    The computer was old though... It had windows XP.
     
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