Fragmentation forces the drive head to jump all over the place to find the bits and pieces of files whenever you access them. Defragmentation, then, is the means by which these files are realigned into contiguous chunks. Windows Vista does this automatically, only the slow speed at which it defrags makes us wonder: Is the time spent worth the supposed performance payoff? And do third-party defragmenters, free or otherwise, do a better job? Should you spend money on third-party defrag tools? Our extensive experiments put commercial utilities (and Vista's built-in solution) to the test!
As much as we would love for our computers to work perfectly, the fact is that PCs and gadgets are complex devices that often fall short of exactly what we want. When confronted with this fact, we’re reminded of the old saw that says if you want something done right, it’s best to do it yourself. And who are we to doubt that kind of wisdom? As power users, we’re not content with hardware the way it comes out of the box; we have an insatiable need to hack our electronics in ways that will improve performance, functionality, and ease of use. And there’s no doubt about it, modifying your hardware will increase your productivity and make your life that much simpler.
As part of my testing for this month’s cover feature, I spent a few
quality days watching movies from the iTunes Store on my PC and in my
living room. By necessity, I had to integrate a newly updated Apple TV
into my entertainment center, which is a fairly common closed cabinet
with a few air vents in the back. All of my other electronics
devices—my receiver, my TiVo, my Xbox 360—live happily in this
environment (although I do open the cabinet door when I fire up the
I’ve been skeptical of multi multi-GPU support since the days of
Nvidia’s original Quad SLI. Back then, bad drivers, a lack of game
support, and 30-inch panels that cost a month’s pay made the prospect