Defrag System Files Using PageDefrag

If you’ve used Windows for any length of time, you must have noticed that it tends to get slower over time. One of the reasons for that is that the filesystem becomes fragmented with use.

Defragmenting is the process of reading all the bits on the file system and re-arranging them to be contiguous.

This is a pretty time intensive process and is quite complex for an operating system to handle. Imagine, you’re trying to access a file that you know resides on particular place and the next time you go to access the same file, the file’s position has changed, since the user ran a defragmenting utility over the file system.

Windows Default defrag tool

For this reason, the default defrag utility which comes bundled with windows (defrag.exe) does not even attempt to defrag any of the important system files that windows uses. So, even after a long and lengthy defragmenting session, there is a good chance that your computer is still not running as well as it can.

To get over this problem, the kind souls maintaining the sysinternals tools over at Microsoft Technet have released a nifty little utility called PageDefrag.

Using PageDefrag to defrag system files on Windows is pretty simple. Just extract the pagedfrg.exe application from the zip file that you downloaded from the above link and execute it.

This is what you will see.

Pagedefrag

Select the “Defragment at next boot” option, press “OK” and reboot windows.

When Windows starts to load, PageDefrag will automatically run and do its job, which is defragmenting the system files, and then complete loading windows after its done.

Pagedefrag working

How PageDefrag gets over Windows inability to defrag system files is that it sets itself to run even before Windows has started and so accesses those files before Windows gets to claim any control over them. Isn’t that cool ?

In my case, none of the system files needed defragmentation and so the process was over in just under 5 seconds but if you have not reinstalled Windows in some time, defragmentation can take a long time. Factor in at least 15-20 minutes for the job.

8 comments

  1. The page file is only of many system files. Infact, the master file table (MFT) is the most important file on an NTFS volume, and needs to be kep defragmented for best performance. Unfortunately, there is no free utility as of now that defrags the MFT (and other metadata too) in XP. Commercial defraggers do that easily, but they are not free. My defragger is the excellent Diskeeper 2009 pro, and among it’s many great features: it defrags the MFT without even requiring a boot-defrag. The pagefile ofcourse can be defragged only with a boot-time defrag.

  2. @ Sharninder : Nice post and i think d app is cool cuz 4rom reading ur post, it actually dosen’t need be installed(its pretty light though).was @ d site 2 download but Vista wasn’t listed under OS’s applicable 2 it. is it safe 2 run on Vista then?

    • I am currently running Vista 64 bit and the program will not run. Haven’t bothered with compatibility mode so there may be hope yet. I will try that when i get home.

      • @Voncrane: I’m not sure this will run with Vista. I use 32 bit WinXP so that’s what I tested the program on. I’ll try and find a Vista machine at work today and try and see if it runs.

  3. Diskeeper does a more efficient defrag than every other program I’ve tried, it completely defragged all the fragmented files turning them ‘blue’ in no time. Definitely recommended as an alternative to the Windows program or other freeware.

    • @Jeremy: I haven’t used diskeeper, but it looks like a nice piece of software. I’ll check it out the next time I’m looking to defragment my disk.

  4. I really like defraggler but I have never used PageDefrag…how does this compare to defraggler?

    Nice article though.

    • Eric: I haven’t used defraggler extensively but from what I understand, defraggler’s claim to fame is that it can work on individual files and defragment them, while pagedefrag defrags only the system files. You can’t select a file and ask it to defragment it.

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