Deeper Reasons For a Slower PC

We have already gone through various reasons which can be held responsible for a slow PC in the previous post revitalize your-computer. But there are some other reasons worth discussing that can cause your PC to crawl. They are the windows services- page file fragmentation, MFT fragmentation and indexing service.

Page file fragmentation: Paging involves the concept of virtual memory, i.e., when there is a shortage of system memory ( RAM), the computer pages certain processes on HDD reserved space called the virtual memory, and hence, the HDD is used as virtual RAM. By default, the page file is assigned on the OS drive. Since already the system is accessing the OS drive for running the windows, it makes sense in assigning the virtual memory on some other drive, where space is plenty and which isn’t used frequently. But over the time, if that drive is used, the page file can get fragmented. Page file fragmentation can lead to serious slowdowns, particularly when you use resource consuming applications. There are two simple ways to correct this issue.

  1. Download Pagedfrg tool from sysinternals.  This tool will defragment your paging file at startup during next reboot. Using Pagedfrg, you can also see how many fragments your page file is broken into. If its one, it’s intact. If it’s more, go for defrag.
  2. The other way is to simply delete the paging file and recreate it. This can be done in this way-

Right click on My computer > Go to properties > Click on Advanced tab > Click on settings button under performance section. In the new pop up window, click on advanced tab > Under virtual memory section click on change button. Now, click on drive where paging file is assigned and check the No paging file option. Click set button and click OK.  Now again go to change, and under a drive having plenty of space, select custom size and enter a size 1.5 times your RAM. This must recreate the paging file as a single unit.

Indexing service: Windows was created to be pretty organized. So much so that it will keep track if all your files and folders by indexing them, so that when you search for a file using the default search option, you can find it easily. But usually search is used rarely and the indexing service is running continuously in back ground which results in consumption of resources. This is can be avoided by disabling the indexing service and disabling the indexing of drives.

  1. Right click on a drive and go to properties, there uncheck the ‘Allow indexing service …’ option and apply.
  2. Go to run, type SERVICES.MSC and press enter. In the opened window, search for indexing service and disable it.

This frees up memory and a little HDD space as well.

MFT fragmentation: The Master File Table is the heart of NTFS file system. The MFT is a list of all files on the drive partition and their location on the drive. Very small files are actually saved directly to the MFT under their entry. In NTFS each file and file fragment contains a copy of its MFT entry so that if you have a crash you do not get lost file fragments since windows can just look at the file fragments and find where they belong. This explains why we don’t get any check disk recovered fragments while we use NTFS system.

Windows allot by default 12.5% of disk space reserved for MFT. This is to give space for MFT to grow. In actual practice I have never seen MFT grow more than 100 MB!  Hence I recommend it is enough if you keep it to default setting. Basically as we continue adding files, though MFT never crosses the assigned reserved space, still space reserved is allotted on some other drive when you use that drive saving large files ( remember all those movies you downloaded to your C drive using torrents?? ). Hence, now MFT is fragmented, which leads to degrade in system performance.

One way to fix it is to re-partition your hard drive, or at least format it to fix localized fragmentation, this way space is reassigned and make sure this time that you don’t fill it to the brim. The other way is to use disk keeper to defragment MFT at boot time.

Disk keeper is a real good application, which will take care of MFT fragmentation issues on its own, and check page file fragmentation as well. This way your file system stays healthy. A healthy file system is the base for a healthy PC !