Very Slow Laptop: Disk Space and Fragmentation Issues You Can Beat

by Rod Dunne on December 15, 2011

in Laptop, Performance

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One common cause of a very slow laptop is problems with disk space and the amount of fragmentation of its files. In this post I’ll show you why this can occur and how to resolve the problem.

Disk space

If your laptop keeps freezing repeatedly even when running basic applications then it may well be that your system is running out of space on the hard drive. The Windows operating system makes use of any empty space on the disk for allocating extra virtual memory. This is also referred to as the paging file.

It is good practice to keep at least 10% your hard drive left empty for virtual memory to expand. If the amount of space drops below 4% then your slow laptop will keep freezing constantly you may experience a blue screen exception. It is easy for disk capacity to start approaching 100% full if you are downloading a lot of files or transferring large music/video/image files onto the computer’s hard drive.

Solution: The best way to free up the extra space is to:-

  • Run Disk Cleanup to get rid of temporary files.
  • Uninstall programs you don’t use.
  • Transfer larger documents onto an external hard disk.


Each document you use is stored on the drive as a series of fragments stored in different locations around the hard disk platter. Accessing these fragments each time can become increasingly time-consuming if there are a lot of fragments as the read/write head needs to access different sectors of the disk.

This can be troublesome especially when accessing operating system files or documents which are continuously accessed by the computer. Excessive fragmentation can cause a slow laptop to gradually degrade in performance the point that applications keep freezing.

Solution: Use a disk defragmentation utility (Windows provides its own or you could try Regtool which is a registry cleaner and advanced disk defragmentation utility in one). These applications attempt to bring all the fragments back together to the one location on your disk so that a single read command will rapidly access your file.

Resources: Regtool – Registry repair and disk defragmentation utility in one.

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