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A computer defrag is most often accessed by hard disk drive properties on My Computer. We can recover My Computer, and defrag without it too.

I wanted to defrag my computer, however, my "My Computer" file which should be on the desktop is not. I don't know where it is. Can you tell me how to locate it AND how to defrag my computer with/without the "My Computer" file.

The "My Computer" icon (technically a shortcut, not a file) is common on default desktops, but it's certainly not required.

While it's one way to access the computer defrag tool, it's not the only way. We'll look at how to get "My Computer" back, and how to defrag without it, too.

The "My Computer" icon is a common fixture on many Windows desktops:

My Computer on the Windows Desktop

However, it's also very easy to lose, either intentionally as part of keeping a clean desktop, or otherwise. Getting it back is easy.

Right click on the desktop background, and select Properties. Click on the Desktop tab:

The desktop tab of display properties

Now click on the Customize Desktop... button:

The desktop items dialog of display properties

Simply make sure that My Computer is checked, and "OK" your way back out.

In Windows Vista the process is similar: right click on the desktop, click on Personalize, then click on Change desktop icons in the left-hand pane. Once again, simply make sure that Computer (as it's called in Vista) is checked, and "OK" and close your way back out.

Something that most people don't realize is that "My Computer" is just a shortcut, and like many shortcuts the target can be accessed from several different places.

Click on the Start menu, and you'll see "My Computer" listed right there:

Windows XP Start Menu

You can right click on that just as you would have the desktop icon, or you can click on it to open "My Computer" just as double clicking on the desktop icon would have done.

Another approach: hold down the Windows Key and press the letter E. In most configurations this will open up Windows Explorer on ... you guessed it ... "My Computer". In fact, being a keyboard kinda guy myself, this is perhaps my most frequently used alternative.

Even though we've figured out about three different ways to get at My Computer, and presumably the disk properties that allow you to start a defrag of your hard disk, let's defrag without "My Computer" at all.

These alternatives all work:

  • Start, Run, and then enter "Compmgmt.msc" and press OK. That's the Computer Management console, and therein you'll find "Disk Defragmenter".

  • Even better: Start, Run, and then enter "dfrg.msc" and press OK. That's the disk defragmenter itself.

  • Finally: consider the "defrag" command line tool. All you need do is open up a Command Prompt (usually in the Accessories menu underneath All Programs), and type "defrag C:" followed by enter. There's no pretty picture as this operates, but the results are the same.

As you can see, just like multiple ways of finding "My Computer", there are multiple ways to find the defragmenting tool as well.

Article C3721 - May 3, 2009 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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3 Comments
Paul Masters
May 3, 2009 6:08 PM

Defrag can also be found in Programs/Accessories/System Tools, where Disk Cleanup also resides. One should, IMO, run Disk Cleanup before defragging anyway.

Burpus Meow
May 5, 2009 9:21 AM

Leo, I lost the My Computer icon [XP] years ago and have NEVER been able to get it back. Everything you suggest has been tried, not once but several times including "Restore Default." Repair of the XP installation has been done a couple of times, but still no My Computer. This is a tough one, and I don't want to reinstall XP from scratch. Any other tricks? Hope you can help. Do have a laptop with XP pro on it and that has the icon.

Mark
May 5, 2009 6:23 PM

@Burpus Meow: Maybe you could try the registry tweak from Kelly's Korner. Tweak 276. Enable/Disable My Computer Icon - http://www.kellys-korner-xp.com/xp_tweaks.htm

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