Windows Defrag Does Not Complete

If you have ever used Windows, you have probably worked with the Defrag program used to rearrange blocks of data so the computer runs efficiently. Especially with Windows 98, the defrag program might not complete its tasks. It restarts over and over again until finally telling you it has restarted 10 times and asking if you would like to continue.

In order for the Defrag program to complete no data must change on the hard drive. If some data is moved during the defrag operation, then the program restarts. Many times, you can bypass this problem by simply restarting your computer in safe mode and then running defrag.  If your computer still does not finish a defrag then continue reading for more hints and help in completing a defrag of your hard drive.

Disable Screen Savers, Power Management and More

Any program running in the background can cause the defrag program to be interrupted, so disable or close all programs before starting a defrag.

Windows 95/98/ME

To turn off the screen saver follow these steps.
  1. Right-click on the desktop
  2. Click on Properties
  3. Click on the Screen Saver tab
  4. Set the Screen Saver to None
  5. Click Ok
Close All Running Programs
  1. With no other programs open, press CTRL-ALT-DEL on your keyboard to bring up the Task Manager
  2. Examine the list of programs running in the background. You should only keep two programs running Explorer and SysTray. To close the other programs, click on a program in the list and choose End Task
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until only Explorer and SysTray are left.
Restart the Defrag program and see if it completes its task. If it fails, run Scandisk first, then restart a Defrag. If you are using Windows 98 and you still are not able to complete a defrag, you may want to replace the defrag program with the Windows ME defrag program which is designed to work better.  To do this, follow these steps.
  1. Click on the following link and save the Windows ME Defrag program to your desktop

  2. Open My Computer
  3. Double-click on Drive C (or whichever drive Windows is installed on)
  4. Double-click on the Windows folder
  5. Locate the defrag.exe file and right-click on it
  6. Click on Rename and type defrag98.exe then click off the name. This will rename the old version of defrag.
  7. Use ALT-TAB to return to your desktop. Right-click on the defrag.exe file and choose CUT
  8. Use ALT-TAB to return to the Windows Folder
  9. Right-click in a blank area in the Windows folder and choose Paste
  10. Close all open windows and programs and reboot your computer
  11. Run Defrag normally. However this time you will be using the Windows ME version that should work better.
Windows XP/Vista

To turn off the screen saver follow these steps.
  1. Right-click on the desktop
  2. Click on Properties
  3. Click on the Screen Saver tab
  4. Set the Screen Saver to None
  5. Click Ok
Close All Running Programs
  1. With no other programs open, Right-click on a blank area on the Start Bar (the area reaching from the Start button to the Time), click on Task Manager.
  2. Click on the Process tab, then click on the User Name heading to group all running processes
  3. Look under the User Name heading for the logged in user
  4. Examine the list of programs running under the user. You should only keep explorer.exe running. To close the other programs, click on a program in the list and choose End Process.
  5. Repeat step 4 until only explorer.exe is left running under the current user.
Now run the defrag program. It should complete.

Extra steps before Defragmenting your Hard Drive

Empty Temp Files and the Recycle Bin

Its always a good idea to empty your recycle bin and delete any temp files before running defrag. Although you can do this manually, I prefer using CCleaner to do this. You can download CCleaner by
clicking here.

Turning off Task Scheduler

If you have any scheduled tasks and they start while defrag is running, defrag will have to restart. For this reason, its a good idea to pause the task scheduler while running a defrag. To do this follow these steps.
  1. Click on Start,  All Programs
  2. Click on Accessories
  3. Click on System Tools
  4. Click on Scheduled Tasks
  5. On the menu at the top of the screen, click on Advanced
  6. Click on Pause Task Scheduler
  7. Close all open windows
  8. To restart the Task Scheduler, follow steps 1 - 5 above, then click Continue Task Scheduler
Turn off Power Management

Because a defrag of your hard drive may take some time, power management features such as turning off your monitor or hard drives after so many minutes of inactivity might affect the defrag. To turn off power management, follow these steps.
  1. Click on Start, Run
  2. Type powercfg.cpl and press Enter
  3. Under Power Schemes set everything to Never and click ok

Written by Mark Hasting

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