The Mole: Digging into Defrag
In this column, Mole burrows into the dark mysteries of Defragmenter.
Defragmenter Keeps Going and Going and
I have a customer running Windows 98 on an Intel Celeron
500 with 64M of RAM. Every time he tries to defragment
his 8.4G C: drive, it takes three to four hours. The program
restarts every 60 seconds. We’ve shut down all software
except the Explorer and systray. The power management
has also been shut down, and there are no screen savers
running. Have you any suggestions as to what might be
writing to the hard drive and interfering with the defrag
—Brian K. Lewis
You’ve made some good initial troubleshooting steps by
disabling power management and the screen saver. But Mole’s
initial reaction after reading your problem description
was “something else is running”—something that you’re
probably unaware of. Mole’s first suggestion is to make
sure that any anti-virus programs are stopped. One way
to make sure that no other programs are running is to
perform a Clean Boot of the system. Knowledge Base article
"Disk Defragmenter: Drive's Contents Have Changed:
Q186/9/78.ASP has a good description of how the Windows
98 System Configuration Utility tool (Msconfig.exe) makes
performing a clean boot easy. Do a Clean Boot, and then
try the Defragmenter utility. It should work.
If the above suggestion doesn’t yield satisfactory results,
try this next suggestion. You say that the Disk Defragmenter
keeps restarting, but Mole thought he’d include a reference
to another article that addresses Disk Defragmenter hanging.
This might also help those that are having problems with
the Defragger hanging (vs. continuously restarting.) That
article is "Disk Defragmenter Hangs After Choosing
Diskto Defragment" (http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/
60.ASP). Hint: This behavior can occur due
to corrupt files or folders.
One last issue specific to Windows 98 deals with machines
that may stop responding (hang) after you choose a disk
to defragment with the Disk Defragmenter tool. This can
occur if you are using APC PowerChute Plus 5.0 or 5.0.1.
These versions of PowerChute Plus are designed for Microsoft
Windows 95. For more information, please read Knowledge
Base article "APC PowerChute Plus Causes Disk Defragmenter
to Hang" (http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/
Although Mole thinks that his first suggestion (a Clean
Boot) will do the trick, it may not. If none of Mole’s
suggestions help, then try hitting the Knowledge Base
yourself. Use queries that contain parts of any error
messages that you receive. As Mole has said before, when
querying the vast Knowledge Base—start wide, then narrow.
Finally, as with a lot of troubleshooting, it is critical
that those helping the troubleshooter provide as much
detailed information as possible—such as specific, exact,
word-for-word, verbatim, (did Mole say “precise”?) error
messages that are seen when something has gone awry. Even
knowing that no error messages are displayed is a clue.
Mole does not mean to be a nag, but he must reiterate
the importance of knowing little details like operating
system versions, Service Pack versions, exact error message
text (not “some error message about a problem with something,”)
and Event IDs all help greatly to weed out issues that
do not apply to a problem. (OK, now, breathe deeply and
repeat “more is better, more is better, more is better”)
In short, work with me, people. OK, Mole feels better.