To Defrag or not to Defrag?

posted 28 Apr 2015, 04:40 by WillisITServices
Most computer users have heard of the term Defrag, but many will not know what it means:

When your computer stores data on the hard drive, it needs the space to do so.
  • Data is stored in a very random fashion scattered over a hard drive.
  • If the new data is a very large file, there may not be enough continuous space to store it, so the computer has to split up the large file into fragments.
  • These fragments then take longer to find when you request the data back, so therefore your hard drive is now fragmented.
  • Defragmenting puts the pieces back to together and re-arranges the free space after the data, not randomly scattered.

So everyone should do this, right? Wrong.

Find out how much free space you have on your computer:
  • Click Start, Computer (This PC in Windows 8)
  • A bar chart should be shown for your C: drive. If not, right-click your C: Drive and choose Properties to see a pie-chart of the space used.
Also, consider what files you keep on your computer.
  • Large files are more likely to become fragmented i.e. music, photos, videos, games, databases
  • Small files are more likely to have space to be saved without being fragmented i.e. Word and Excel documents, emails.
So in short, you are likely to benefit from defragmenting if you have used more than half the hard drive space, AND you have save a lot of large files.

Still, you might not need to bother!

All versions of Windows since Vista have included an automatic defrag. You can check that this is set by opening the Disk Defragmenter: Click Start, and simply start typing defragmenter. You should see the icon appear for Disk Defragmenter. Click that icon and you should see the following:

However, if you are still interested:

There is an alternative defrag tool to consider as mentioned on my Recommended Software list. Consider this for a more thorough job than the built in Windows tool, and if you are keen to find every possible speed improvement from defragmenting.