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The Case of the Gray Defrag

Dave from ND writes:

When I go to Defrag the screen comes up, but both bars are solid grey and a pop-up comes up and says Disk Defragmenter will not start. Any ideas?

Hi, Dave.

What it sounds like to me is that you don’t have enough free space on your drive to defrag.  A general rule is that about 15% free disc space is required.  Here’s how you can check your hard drive’s free space in Windows 7… if you have a “Computer” icon on your desktop, double-click it.  If you don’t, then click “Start” and then “Computer”.  What comes up should look like this:

In this example, I have about 30% of my hard drive or a little less free.  The next thing that you’ll want to do is clean up some space on your hard drive.  The easiest way that I know to do this is to use the Windows disc clean up utility.  You find that by clicking “start”, and entering “cleanup” in the search box.  It should populate before you’ve got the whole word in.

In this case, I entered “cle” into the search box and “disc cleanup” popped up as the second option.  It will ask you which drive you want to clean, and your option (probably the default) will be C:.  It will calculate how much space you can free up.  Next, a window will pop that asks what files you want cleaned up.  Some will be checked by default. 

You can see from the example that I’ve been somewhat lazy about cleaning my recycle bin.  So choose which files you want it to clean.  If you don’t know what it does, don’t clean it.  Typically, whatever the default is plus your recycle bin will be plenty.  Once you’ve done that, click “ok”.  A verification window will come up asking if you’re sure.  Tell it that you are, and the cleanup will proceed. 

If this doesn’t free up enough space, it might be time to start deleting stuff from your hard drive.  When I had a much smaller hard drive than I do now, I found it easiest to move my documents off onto a removable drive, and just start using that drive to store my documents.  You should be able to pick up a portable 750 gig or 1 terabyte hard drive for $100 or less. 

Once you’ve freed up the space, try your defrag again.

Hope that this helps!

~Randal Schaffer