As mentioned recently, I have just upgraded my laptop to a new HP 6175b, which came pre-installed with Windows Vista. As a result I will probably be posting some recommendations, rants and feedback with regard to using Windows Vista.
Overall, things have run very smoothly, though I am still tweaking and testing the system. However, one small thing jumped out at me today which completely baffled me.
Vista sees a change being brought to the Disk Defragmenting tool1. As per usual, you can access it by double-clicking Computer, right-clicking on one of your hard drives and selecting “Properties”. In the Properties dialogue select the “Tools” tab and click on “Defragment Now”.
This brings up the Disk Defragmenter, where you can view the current schedule and modify it if you desire, or you can begin defragmenting. If you begin defragmenting you will notice that for some unknown reason Microsoft have decided not only to remove the information display on what drives you have and the ability to do an analysis only2, but once you have decided to go ahead with defragmenting, they have completely removed any display of progress!
This completely baffles me, and I am sitting here waiting to do a restart not knowing how long it will take for my defragmenting to complete. All the information they are giving me is that “This may take from a few minutes to a few hours”.
Thanks Microsoft – this is definitely one change that I think you should rectify with an update.
Andrew McLaren has given a little more background information regarding the decision to remove progress indication over on the Windows Vista community discussion group:
This change was actually on purpose. As I understand it, in Vista, Defrag was rewritten by Microsoft to remove the last of the code they’d licensed from Executive Software. In the process, it was noted that the old Defrag GUI, although visually appealing, was actually quite an inaccurate picture of what was really happening on the disk. To rework the UI to provide an accurate, real-time image of the disk would have been a major project. Even keeping the existing GUI would have carried a cost, because that code would have needed to pass a Vista security review – another major project, and for tombstoned code.
Furthermore, in Vista Defrag is configured to run silently in the background, as Scheduled Task; so a glossy UI was less important than earlier versions where Defrag only ran interactively. In Vista, all you get is the “Disk Defragmanter” dialogue box, with a “Run on a Schedule” option (selected by default) and a “Defragment Now” button to kick off a manual defrag. The idea is that most of the time, most users will never run Defrag interactively – it will be a weekly or daily background task they never notice (like the many other regularly scheduled maintence tasks in Vista).
My understanding is that Microsoft hope to add a more descriptive visual GUI in a later release, for users who wish to run Defrag interactively. They are aware the users liked the old visuals. But for the release of Vista, it was judged a reasonable trade-off, to ditch the misleading and unsecured old GUI, in favor of the minimal but adequate (and secured) UI we see today.
Thanks to Andrew for giving some additional information there – although I do think for a power-user this still does not justify there being absolutely no indication of progress or estimated time remaining. I do agree though that the old GUI didn’t really serve too much of a purpose.
- Over time you delete and add new files to your hard drives. As time goes on, related files get placed in different areas on your hard disk. Files might end up being split in multiple locations as well. This is referred to as File Fragmentation. Defragmenting analyses your hard drive, moves files around and attempts to put all the frequently accessed files near the start of the drive. This helps by decreasing hard drive access times and reducing the amount of work the hard drive has to do – theoretically increasing drive life span.
- Doing an analysis only would allow you to see how much fragmentation exists and to make a decision on whether or not it is necessary to proceed with defragmenting.