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HTG Explains: Do You Really Need to Defrag Your PC?

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Ask any PC tech person how to make your computer faster, and almost every one of them will tell you to defrag your PC. But do you really need to manually trigger a defrag these days?

The quick answer: You don’t need to manually defragment a modern operating system. The longer answer: let’s go through a couple scenarios and explain so you can understand why you probably don’t need to defrag.

If You’re Using Windows with an SSD Drive

If you’re using an SSD (Solid State Drive) in your computer, you should not be defragmenting the drive to avoid excessive wear and tear—in fact, Windows 7 is smart enough to disable defrag for SSD drives. Here’s what Microsoft’s engineering team has to say on the subject:

Windows 7 will disable disk defragmentation on SSD system drives. Because SSDs perform extremely well on random read operations, defragmenting files isn’t helpful enough to warrant the added disk writing defragmentation produces…

….the automatic scheduling of defragmentation will exclude partitions on devices that declare themselves as SSDs.

If you’re running Windows Vista, you should make sure to disable the automatic defrag, and if you’re using Windows XP with an SSD, one has to wonder why you’d have such an expensive solid state drive running with an ancient operating system. Also, don’t manually defrag.

If You’re Running Windows 7 or Vista

If you’re using either Windows 7 or Vista, your system is already configured to run defrag on a regular basis—generally 1 AM every Wednesday. You can check for yourself by opening up Disk Defragmenter and seeing the schedule there, as well as the last run and fragmentation levels.

For instance, in the screenshot below, you’ll see that the last time it ran just a few days ago, and there was 0% fragmentation. Clearly the schedule is working just fine.

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The one exception to this rule is if you turn your PC off every time after using it—essentially, if you never let the PC sit idle at all, the defrag task will never get a chance to run. This is probably not the case, but if you check and your drive hasn’t been defragged in a while, you might have to start doing it manually.

Windows XP

Sadly there’s no automatic defragmenter in Windows XP, which isn’t surprising since it’s 10 years old. This also means that you are going to need to either manually defragment the drive on a regular basis. How regular? Well, that depends on how much data you’re creating, downloading, writing, and deleting. If you’re a heavy user, you need to run it once a week. Light user, maybe once a month.

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Luckily there’s a much better option—you can quickly and easily setup an automatic defrag in Windows XP using task scheduler. It’s pretty simple, and you can configure it to run whenever you want.

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Do Third-Party Defrag Utilities Really Matter?

It’s impossible to write an article about defrag and not at least mention third-party defrag utilities—but unfortunately we don’t have solid benchmarks to prove that they improve performance better than the default defrag built into Windows. Our general, non-scientific testing has shown that commercial defrag utilities definitely accomplish the task a little better, adding features like boot-time defrag and boot speed optimization that the built-in defrag doesn’t have. They can generally defrag system files a little better, and they usually include tools for defragging the registry as well.

But here’s what they won’t tell you: Over the years, as hard drives have gotten much faster at both sequential and random reads and writes, the usefulness of defrag has dropped a bit. Your hard drive 10 years ago only had to be partially fragmented to cause system slowdown, but these days, it’ll require a very fragmented drive to make that happen. Another factor are the giant hard drives in modern computers, which have enough free space that Windows doesn’t have to fragment your files in order to write them to the drive.

If you’re looking to eke every last drop of performance out of your spinning hard drive, a third-party defrag utility is probably what you need… or you could put that cash towards a new SSD, which would massively increase performance.

Wrapping Up

Didn’t feel like reading the whole article? Skipped down to here for some unknown reason? Here’s the quick version:

  • (Fastest) Windows with an SSD Drive: Don’t Defrag.
  • Windows 7 or Vista: It’s automatic, don’t bother. (check to make sure the schedule is running)
  • Windows XP: You should upgrade. Also, you should setup defrag on a schedule.

Bottom line: Upgrade to an SSD and your PC will be fast enough to leave defrag where it belongs: a distant memory.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/14/11

Comments (49)

  1. mrhhug

    what is a defrag? i think its important to note what is a fragmented disk. This is an extremely simplified view : When a file cannot be stored linearly (one byte right after another in order); your filesystem decides that there might still be space if the file gets broken up into pieces. OR add to a file after it is created and another file has been created immediately following the file to grow. This is not only true for one file but groups of files that are often accessed together like your my pictures folder or your music collection.

    imagine putting chapters 8-10 of a mystery book at one friends house then chapters 11-15 at another friends house because your bookshelf for mystery books is full. That would slow down how fast you read the book. defraging reorganizes the entire bookcase

    when you come across a PC that is using only a small fraction of disk space, which is very very common with the price of todays drives.Dont waste your time defragging manually. The ssd thing is really important.

  2. David

    I have to strongly disagreed that Third-Party Defrag Utilities doesn’t make a improvement for window 7 and vista. I use Smart defrag and do deep optimize on ever computer i fix, When i use it on my Dad computer (vista) who defrag ever week or ever 2 week with window defrag made really no different, I use smart defrag and do deep optimize it went from taking 60 second for Firefox to open to 10 second and everything ran alot faster (that without doing boot time defrag), I probably install it over 150-200 computer last 2 years and ever one i use it on made speed different over using window built in, about 30 of the computer they ran window defrag weekly, The best way i found using Smart defrag is only running it in deep optimize and I let it run twice reset and run another 2 times then just run it once ever 2 week to a mouth . Smart defrag is free (just have to skip other utility they want to install). I do agreed not to run it on a SSD.

  3. legycsapo

    Hi all !

    For some reason, i am experiencing some heavy hdd use on windows 7. The startup is about (I checked the startup apps) 6 minutes, I cannot do anything, but i see the whole desktop …
    I tried to defragment but now I know it doesn’t matter :D

    Some advice? THX !

  4. Bigtech

    It all depends on how you use your computer really. SSD’s never need to be defraged due to the way data is stored on them But generally your HD doesn’t need to be defraged more than once every 3 months. Heck teh average user can make a 6 month gap between defrags. Now if you use your system for work in the fields of say: animation, movie editing, audio editing, graphic arts. Then you may need to defrag more frequently.

    Why? Because fragmentation occurs when a file grows beyond it’s pre-allocated size blocks and new blocks need to be allocated. Ideally all the blocks that make up a file should be adjacent in on continuous row on a disk platter but that’s not always possible. new files are created, edited changed all the time, so the system will creat the new block in the nears available empty spot.This mean that as a file grows it can get spread over quite a bit of hard drive geometry. Now for most users this is not at issue but for people who routinely create 100+ mb files on an almost daily basis, it adds up to quite a bit of scattered data which can make work a little slower on loading and saving.

    Now there’s another process that sometimes gets done at the same time as defragmention depending on the application. There are 3 types of defrag.

    Space Consolidation – All the free space is just moved to the end of the drive the files themselves remain fragmented.

    Defragmentation. FIles are defragmented and freespace consolidated

    Optimization – In addition to defragmenting the files it repositions the files on the hard drive according to their use for faster access. Frequently used files are placed towards the outer edges (where the fasted reads and writes are possible. Less frequently used files are put towards the inner areas and applications typically in the middle.

    Optimization yields the best results and is usually the feature you get with third party apps that you don’t with the built in defragmenters.

    So to summarize 70% of you out there don’t need to defrag more than once every 3-6 months. Weekly defrags just waste time. Also unless you do an optimization you usually wont seem much difference in your system performance after. If you only consolidate free space then you just wasted time for nothing. Is defragmenting still vital . It depends . for those of us that crunch mega files day in day out…yeah. Keep in mind these are big working files Ile files that will fluctuate in size frequently , these aren’t jut big files that are downloaded like movies that while large, never really change once they’re saved.

  5. Burgman

    I have to disagree with you please check out PerfectDisks web site they will expalin in detail with proven benchmarks on their product compare to others its’ the best and well worth the money. I have been a user for 8 years.

  6. Herman Bos

    Nice to say one has to disable defrag on ssd drives.
    But how is this for the hybride harddrives like the 95005620AS from seagate?
    A harddrive with buikd in smart ssd cache…

  7. Wayne Riker

    Stop calling XP an old outdated OS. It is still 50% of all operating systems combined.

  8. unten

    Best way to avoid defraging, stop using windows. Switch to Linux and never need to defrag again. :)

  9. Chris

    I will have to disagree with the point that massively large hard drives reduce fragmentation. While you won’t see nightmares like 50% fragmentation on a 1TB HDD with a clean install, do a clean install of Vista or 7, with Service Packs, and you will get 1,200-1,700 fragmented files before regular use of the system. While fragmentation is exponentially increased when a drive is so full that there is no linear space available to write a file to, it is a defect of NTFS that causes fragmentation, you can have 700 GB free space and NTFS will still fragment files within a localized area of the HDD, up to 46% that I have seen. I recommend to my customers that do a fair amount of data moving (digital imaging, audio files, ISOs, mapping, and huge PST or other email files) and heavy power users to use a 3rd party utility such as Auslogic’s Disk Defrag. Regular system maintenance using utilities like CCleaner and removing excess system restore points also aids in removing files that typically have a high fragmentation rate to begin with. For some fragmentation horror shots and demonstration of the fact that huge HDDs do not prevent normal fragmentation, go to http://picasaweb.google.com/caridley/Technology#

  10. Linux_Lover

    I’d have to agree with unten. Linux is the best thing since sliced bread! As a computer business owner and an engineer for the last 27 years and using Linux, Sun Solaris, Unix, Apples, and Windows, Linux and Unix are hands-down unbeatable. Unfortunately, Linux and Unix are not nearly as user-friendly as Windows. However, in the context of the conversation, defragging is a non-issue with non-Windows OSes. And as far as viruses go, Unix, Linux, Apples, Solaris, and some others are “almost” impervious to them because of their permission structure.

    Nevertheless, the average user won’t see much difference in boot times or system response when a drive is defragmented because most gains are not going to be measurable in seconds; more likely milliseconds that only benchmark software will see. The bigger problem is the number of items people have starting up in their msconfig file. If you want to see marked and measurable gains in your start-up times, find someone (like me) who knows what can be disabled in the msconfig file startup tab and you’ll see a big difference in your start-up times.

    Good day to all!

    PS to Wayne Riker…XP is old but it is solid and I’d say that 90% of my customers still use it! I prefer W7 on my Windows machines but XP is a solid stand-by for me for sure!!

  11. Gavin

    Glad I looked over this. I’d heard that Win7 did it automatically, but didn’t realize that it was schedule-based, not idle-based. Turns out it was at a time that I never had the computer awake at (I only leave it on overnight one day a week for backups/virus scans).

  12. Linux_Lover

    I would just also add one more thing concerning after-market defragmenting utilities. The finest I’ve seen yet is Diskeeper. It runs real-time rather than needing to be scheduled periodically and it’s seamless on all of the systems I run it on. It runs in the background and doesn’t bog down my machine, nor does it require that I “fire and forget” the defrag routine and make me walk away from my system while it does it’s thing. I highly recommend it!! You can find out more at http://www.diskeeper.com.

  13. rroberto18

    Question: Since performing a defrag can overwrite files, does it render System Restore less likely to operate? My Win 7 System Restore is no longer able to restore to a given point and I wonder if a recent defrag is the reason.

  14. C12ASH

    @legycsapo Try a free program called Soluto. It focuses on speeding your boot time.

  15. Brent

    Yeah somewhere I learned solid state drives (noting particular attention if you use sd cards (for data backup), can have a shortened life span when rewritten thousands of times, hence one good reason not to defrag them as that obviously rewrites data). So don’t set one up as a page-file either!

  16. Keith

    Ha! I wanted to write a long reply and when I started to I realized that Linux_Lover basically said it all (correctly). I’m also a computer business owner and support his message 99%. The only reason there is 1% missing is because Linux isn’t quite there yet. Ubuntu and Mint are looking better by the day, but they are still not nearly user-friendly enough. Sadly, I don’t think they ever will be, but that’s fodder for another discussion.

    I also wanted to address this quote from the article “Another factor are the giant hard drives in modern computers, which have enough free space that Windows doesn’t have to fragment your files in order to write them to the drive.”

    The amount of free space has no correlation with how Windows writes files in my experience. Perhaps it’s wrong to say “no correlation”, but the take home point is that fragmentation occurs on any NTFS or FAT file system (Windows). The reasons for this are technical and beyond the scope of this comment, but suffice to say that EXT or any other Linux friendly filesystem is going to behave much better and not need defragmenting because it doesn’t fragment in the first place.

    Wayne Riker is right, XP does not deserve to go in the trash bin just yet. It is still the dominant OS and until it is unsupported by MS, it makes absolutely no sense to abandon it or write it off as some crappy relic. So it doesn’t automatically defrag, big deal! Some of us might say that is a blessing and not a curse.;)

  17. Midnight

    I have to agree with Burgman, that Raxco PerfectDisk is better for defragging H/Ds, as the one built in Windows is archaic and to my knowledge, has never been updated to perform as well as some third party Defragging software!

    Now, once the price of SSDs drops to a more reasonable level, we can All buy them and be a happier lot! :)

  18. Keith

    @Linux_Lover

    Diskeeper is awesome, but not free. Would love to put something like that on my client’s computers, but the fee is prohibitive in most cases. The best free one I have found is SmartDefrag. It has optimizations similar to DiskKeeper, but does not run full-time in the background (“fire and forget” as you say). It is far superior to the default Windows Defrag.

    The whole topic is overblown a bit these days though. I defragment my machines pretty sparsely (about every 3-6 months) and I don’t see much difference in performance (As a disclaimer, I’m a HEAVY computer user which means that I use 2 computers about 16 hours a day, sometimes more).

    Basically, I’ve gotten to the point where I can tell if a drive needs it. If it doesn’t need it, then there’s is no point wasting one’s time “setting and forgetting” or paying for a solution that (while frugal) still steals some processor time and memory juice.

  19. shimmer

    Self fulfilling prophecy perhaps? I’m referring to all that disagree with the author of this article. While I agree with said author, ’cause there are so many factors that can cause system slow downs, as each computer is unique in it’s mix of components and programs, it makes perfect sense to describe the advancements in hard drive tech vs defragging impacts as that is a basic starting point.

    So, disagreeing because they have had different experiences is missing the point. Perhaps if they treat this article for what it is, a teaching point, they could add their personal experiences as opposed to dissing the competency of our favorite web site and their staff.

  20. ThunderByrd

    Another thing about Windows XP, as explained recently on this web site is it’s terrible security. 10 years old in the computer world is an absolute antique.

  21. YoDah

    I often test software, to see if I like it, and then delete it, so it will create gaps on the disk, and i prefer to manually defrag, AFTER I´ve run Ccleaner to clean the registry (also after automatic updates), as well as cleaning all the gunk which windows leaves behind, after doing its own thing.
    I´ve never been impressed with windows, but a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away… people were obsessed with windows, and I was forced to buy XP pro at the time to use software I was required to use.
    NOW, even Richard Branson and Virgin Bank, have thrown Windows out the Window, and installed LINUX. Why wait 8 mths. for patches, if a geek can find a hole and plug it in 8 hrs. NOT to mention the fact, that the geek, isn´t going to charge you an arm and a leg for putting patches on umpteen computers, whereas Microsoft, will.
    Yes my computer IS OLD, and some of the software, can only run on windows, and I may keep it for doing just that. BUT when I buy a new computer, I shall put LINUX on it, and use open source software like I´m doing now, e.g. Open Office and OMEGA T.
    Windows just doesn´t keep up with the times, it is very messy in its file maintenance, and MS are just obsessed with creating problems, by (over)loading the system, with each new version.
    May the Open Source be with you.

  22. Saman

    i use Defraggler every month :D!

  23. Holden

    I won’t upgrade from my XP! Even if You will say in each and every article that XP is an ancient relic, I won’t upgrade.

    I have two disks, a whole amount of 2.75 TByte, whenever I can do, I defrag the volumes. I love to see when the defragmenter works.

    It is a huge urban legend that Linux filesystem does not need defragmentation. The ext2/3/4 also will be fragmented when under heavy use. Nobody can make a dynamic space allocator system which will not be fragmented! Ask Oracle or any database maker, databases also will be fragmented so as the Linux filesystem.

  24. Holden

    Keith: What do You mean on that “it doesn’t fragment in the first place.”?

    Every filesystem will be fragmented if one uses it. It won’t be fragmented only if it is not used, or the filesystem is constantly rearrange the blocks to avoid fragmentation. But this time the whole system will be much more slower! There is only one way to avoid fragmentation, it is the constant defragmenting!!!

  25. Holden

    Even Windows registry can and should be defragmented regularly, even on such “modern” Windowses as Win 7 or Win 8.

  26. John T. McF. Mood

    REALLY?: Windows 7 or Vista: It’s automatic, don’t bother.

    I looked, as your article kind of jogged the old memory banks. It SI scheduled, but has NEVER RUN. I am on Win 7 Ultimate, 64 bit and have all the updates EXCEPT SP1 which steadfastly refuses to work. I run 24/7 and it was as I said SCHEDULED as your article states, Wednesdays 01:00 hours, but has not run… even though it SHOULD have by now. I have been running Win 7 since it was released.

  27. Tim

    A few little things.

    Third party defraggers on Windows all use the Windows defrag API. The only difference between them is the way they organise the files, but they are playing a guessing game on how you and your computer uses the files. Most people don’t use the vast majority of the files on their computer the majority of the time or require especially rapid access to them so defragging an entire disc as many do frequently is often a waste of time. Core files accessed a lot may benefit from it, but still don’t need regular defragmentation, just a one time defrag. Many people have systems fast enough and with bigger discs these days, that makes fragmentation much less of an issue. There an argument even that discs perform well until they are defragged and then will need continual defragging.

    Linux fragments also. Shock! Yes, it does (ext3 we’re talking about). It’s just the operating system is a bit more efficient at writing the files in the first place and places those fragments close to each other so they are less of an issue. However it still depends how you use the computer and fragmentation can become an issue as the disc fills up.

    Diskeeper has Scientology associations. That’s all I have to say on that.

  28. Scout

    I find defrag is still a useful tool. It lets me see that the page file is contained in a single contiguous block. It have had issues on XP where the page file has become split up. I have found many old XP machines that benefit from having the page file set to zero, disk defragged, and page file switched back on.

    Another place I have found defragmentation improves performance is on servers. People often run around defraging the workstations but forget that the server is doing the heavy lifting.

    Will we get cloud defragmentation next? We can call it rain.

  29. BCNova

    If you are a novice reading these comments, disregard them all. ANY magnetic disc storage, regardless of Operating System has the same fragmentation issues. To state that any OS not being Windows as not experiencing fragmentation is incorrect. It used to be sain that the NTFS partitions never needed defragmenting. SSD’s don’t need it because their size is too small to notice any difference in read/write operations.

    I swear, the stuff that passes for valid information astounds me. Ise linux, my HD’s do get fragmented. Of course, I do live on Earth and not on planet Pipe-Dream.

  30. v10

    @Linux_Lover A computer business? Like computer repair? Maybe the reason 90% of your customers have Windows XP are because they’re the ones who have computers with problems. I know this is the case with my business, as whenever I set someone up with a new Win 7 PC I don’t see them for over a year.

    As for defragmenting, when I run defraggler and list the fragmented files, I notice that most of them are ones that are non system critical files that hardly ever get touched anyway. Things like hotfix/service pack installers, downloaded movies, internet temporary files etc. So I don’t bother if that is the case. The only time I actually defragment files are OS files, video games (for slightly faster loading), and the paging file (which I have somehow seen in as many as 1000 pieces)

  31. Doug Blue

    XP is still supported, how long since service pack 3 was released? XP optimizes my disk when idle, unless I tell it not to. I never have had the opportunity to defrag the Linux box, never tried to defrag an ext3 or 4 file system with wine either, but did run an anti-virus on Linux at one time. PerfectDisk is a good utility if you are using an ntfs file system.

  32. nt0xik8ed

    good to see a credible site telling people to ditch xp. i’ve been telling them since vista but they just can’t let go of the raggedy old shoe.

  33. Stu

    WinXp and possibly newer bought rights/licenses from DIskeeper for their internal
    defrag code. It is a stripped down version of the retail releases.

  34. Gordon

    I have several machines that run XP very solidly by using Microsoft’s Steady-State to protect and return the system to the same state, boot after boot after boot. Industrial places like power plants and refineries (any critical must-run business) have a similar strategy, they want it to keep track of data but not actually make any changes to the system. Resiliency = dependability = availability.
    Anyways, I only defrag rarely, as I rarely make changes to the system.
    Go ahead, tell me it is somehow politically incorrect, but my machines work and work well.

  35. terri lockerridge

    I do not understand why MS is ditching such a great OS as XP… It is the most user friendly, simply maintained OS ever released and is still used by everyone I know, even where I work, and where I work is part of a world wide networking of computers! Vista was created for businesses.. it never had the individual owner in mind at all.. Windows 7 is pretty good.. but it just does not have all the good solid, everyday use type feature of XP.
    De-fragmenting is just a part of good computer preventive maintenance. It goes hand in hand with daily junk clean out with registry and files with CC Cleaner, with disc cleaning, and disc error checking on a regular schedule and when you are installing and removing software perhaps more often. Most important is the kind of security system you have installed on your PC.. and never download and install anything without scanning it first!
    I don’t have much trouble with my machine.. which is a Dell and is six years old and still works as fast and as smooth as it did when I first took it for its surfing safari on the web. I take care of it and it takes care of me.

  36. Andy

    Why does everyone want to re-write the article instead of commenting on the one written. All the world’s a smart-arse!

  37. John Chorley

    I like Defragging, it keeps helps my HDD read and write files faster. When people ask me how to speed up their computer I offer many ways. Defragging is never my first suggestion, I always suggest upgrading your OS, or adding more RAM. If a computer is really really really really slow, then I advise them to get a new PC, or Mac.

    There are other ways to speed up the computer such as uninstalling unwanted applications, disabling start up items. (I have next to none), and changing the way Windows looks.

    Oh and yeah don’t use iTunes unless you know how to reduce it’s resource consumption.

  38. Gordon

    @John Chorley– So if you were a car mechanic and someone said, “Fix my classic car” you’d instead recommend they purchase a new one?

  39. Steven1

    How do you print these articles for reading off line? I use the browser print function and all I get is some random stuff but not the main article. Why doesn’t HTG provide for a printable format?

  40. indianacarnie

    In the distinct minority I guess but I just don’t care for LINUX,whatever the distro. Tried a couple of them and ,laugh at me all you want,its just plain too much trouble. Too much trouble installing drivers especially. IMHO of course.

    About the defrag thing , which this article is SUPPOSED to be about anyway, I still use Auslogics defrag for mainly one reason, the optimize feature. I use Win7 and shut my computer down every night when I’m finished doing whatever it is I’m doing so the built in defrag is a moot question for me.I download quite a few things in the average week,and the defrag and optimize feature really keeps my drive “tidy” and humming.

  41. Bruce (pmtoolsthatwork.com)

    When I tune up a customer’s PC to get their performance back, two key elements are defragging the hard disk and removing processes from memory and startup. I regularly get the “It feels like a new PC!” reaction when they use it after the tuneup. (I also ensure the OS is updated as well as all the software, bios, etc.). Most of these PCs are XP and Vista based. I use ccleaner and defraggler among other readily available tools. The other great source of speedup for an older PC is simply putting in more RAM.

    As with so many approaches and ideas, the theories and arguments about defragging are great, but then we need to go test them out and see what really happens in the real world. For the moment, in my experience, a good tuneup including a complete defragging can still make a noticeable improvement in how “snappy and quick” the PC is to bootup, shutdown, application launches, clicks and commands. Such a tuneup can extend the life of a PC for years (in terms of usability, not necessarily hardware life). After I tuneup a PC, most (but not all) folks no longer think they need a new PC.

    P.S. I’ve never found registry cleaning (recreating, etc.) making any difference. It seems so logical and I periodically will try a new tool or approach, but it has never noticeably improved anything, in my experience.

  42. jdels

    I just got finished reading the comments. Everybody is saying the same old thing about performance issues and which defrag softare is best. However, no one mentioned the fact that defraging will increase the capacity of the hard drive. No, wait a minute, that’s not correct. A 320GB hard drive will ALWAYS have the capacity of a 320GB hard drive. What happens is that fragmentation causess a lot of holes in the layout of data on the drive. When you look at my computer you will see the free space decrease. When my free space dropped to 2 or 3 GB, I would start a defrag. When I was finished, my free space would be 15 or 20GB. However after I kept saving data, it eventually caught up to me and I had to move data off the drive or get a highr capacity drive. I was able to keep my hard drive for a year before I had to replace it. Try it yourself. Check your free space before and after the defrag. some defrag software is better than others in recovering free space.

  43. ima-pc

    um .. nobody has mentioned that a HDD will last longer since it doesn’t have to grab bits an pieces from all over the drive when a file is accessed! Also as someone noted earlier, the paging file can get scattered all over the platters causing a performance hit because the file is allowed to expand and contract [I have seen this on machines that had not been set up properly or not at all] – a simple fix is to set the virtual memory min/max the same size – no change = no frag!
    Your best bet is to get off this thread that is loaded with misinformation and not based in reality – most people can’t afford to run out and get a SSD just to avoid fragmentation, plus the fact that you would be better off with a combination standard BIG – HDD + SSD, keep all your files -including the paging file on the inexpensive tried and true spinning drive and your OS + PROGRAMS on the SSD for speed! Laptops do have a real need for a SSD, that is, they don’t have any moving parts = less power consumption and no potential head contact with the platters when bumped. SSD is a really cool technology but still needs work and in time the price will be a bit more reasonable.
    If you really want to know everything about HDDs visit – http://hddguru.com/ – there are also answers to your SSD questions.

    BOTTOM LINE – Yes, fragmentation does slow a machine down noticeably!

    BTW – The defrag method in windows sucks, use some of the ones already mentioned here as they work fine or the one i use O&O Defrag http://www.oo-software.com/en/products/oodefrag

  44. Valknut

    So no worries for local drives.
    What about network drives? More and more people have their media on a big NAS HDD, for streaming and such. I never found a tool that allows defragging of a network drive, or visibility on the level of fragmentation. So if one often adds/deletes files, then there should be increasing fragmentation that is not addressed?

  45. Paul

    Interesting article, thanks. With over 10% electricity price inflation in the UK this year I don’t know many people who care little enough about either their wallets or the planet’s dwindling resources that they’d leave their computers on all the time though, so manual defragging is still a must for many of us. Personally I prefer Auslogics DiskDefrag, but I’ve also found Defraggler does a good job.

    /Waiting for the Linux evangelists to claim that a certain OS reduces your electricity bills, replenishes the ozone layer, reverses global warming and feeds the starving millions ;-)

  46. dima

    I use Defraggler

  47. oldcrock

    MS built in auto defrag did not make any difference to one of my 7 systems that took 90 seconds to complete power up, so ran another defrag program. The system on power up would be impossible to time as the login screen appears in less than 2 seconds. It is as fast as my system with an SSD.

    I personally do beleive in running a defrag every few months (or when I remember) but then I only have 45 years computer experience and it would appear that some newbies (15-30 years old) have more experience than I do. Over the years I have taught around 12,000 people how to use computers, even at my age (70) I still spend 12 to 14 hours a day researching the Internet for apps and hardware that might be of interest me.

  48. mabelcwagner

    I am having a lot of problems. To numerous to say. Today, i couldn,t delete an email.
    When i clicked it off, then clickec on another both were talking. i had click on a video

  49. paul.lunt

    thanks all good to know.

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