Over time, your hard disk may become fragmented; that is, as files are saved and opened, Windows XP may have stored pieces of the files in different places on the disk, which in turn requires more time to save and open them. Fragmentation is a normal part of excessive disk use, and the primary sign of fragmentation is slow reading and writing. For example, a file might take a little too long to open, or save. The good news is that Windows XP provides the Disk Defragmenter tool to defragment the hard disk and resolve the problem.
To defragment the drive, follow these steps:
1. Click Start--> My Computer--> Right-click the disk you want to defragment--> and then click Properties.
2. Click the Tools tab--> and click the Defragment Now button.
3. In the Disk Defragmenter window--> click the Analyze button to see if the disk needs to be defragmented.
4. A message appears telling you whether or not you should defragment the volume. Click Defragment to continue.
5. The defragmentation process begins and may take some time, depending on the size of the hard disk (possibly several hours).
Prevention: If your disk is highly fragmented, you can run the Disk Defragmenter tool several times in a row. The tool does not fix all defragmentation, so running the tool several times may give you even better results. However, do not expect your disk to become 100 percent defragmented; again, fragmentation is a normal result and not one that needs to be feared just controlled.