Two questions regarding defragmenting:
1. I saw that there are several defrag tools available online (some for free and some for a fee). Are there any that are better than the utility that comes with Windows?
2. Also, I'm running XP, and I've been defragging in safe mode as recommended to me by someone else. Is that the best way to go about it?
Since files in use cannot be defragged, defragging in Safe Mode allows you to potentially defrag more files. Defragging tries to rearrange your disk files in contiguous space. The less free space you have, the more newly created or modified files will become defragmented, and defragging becomes a little more important.
But with today's disks spinning at faster speeds in PCs with large amounts of RAM, the difference defragging makes becomes increasingly less noticeable except for extreme cases. My recommendation is to keep at least 20 percent free disk space and to stick with the Windows built-in defrag tool.
In an earlier column, you wrote about antivirus or malware security programs. I now have Trend antivirus protection. Should I download Microsoft Security essentials now or wait until the Trend protection has expired?
If your subscription with Trend is active (which means you are still getting definition updates), there is no reason to change at this time.
If you decide that you want to go with Microsoft Security Essentials, then wait until a couple of weeks before your subscription runs out before uninstalling Trend and installing Microsoft Security Essentials.
Once you are satisfied that the new software is working properly, contact Trend and make sure your account is closed in case they have an automatic renewal charge policy. Your life and your PC will now be less complicated.
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.