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How often should Defragmenting be used?

Why is the defragmenting program so slow?

Question: Why does it take so long to open files?

Answer: When was the last time you defragged your hard drive?

Access to files is important, if you want a faster responsive computer the files you and the Operating System access has to be as fast as the drive and the drive controller can open, close, or save a file. A slow responding file system makes a noticeable drag on the performance of the computer thus doing maintenance periodically will keep the performance of your computer at a higher level.

When a drive starts to fill up instead of a file being written to one contiguous space it is broken up in to smaller segments and fills in places where the smaller parts will fit. Thus the file has become fragmented when stored on the hard drive.

To load that broken up file takes longer than it would if the file was all in one place instead of all over the hard drive.

Question: What is defrag?

Defragmenting is a process where a program tries to move files around on the hard drive to make each file fit in a continuous space.

Warning!

Do NOT run a defragment program on a SSD, it will corrupt the data! It will corrupt the data so bad the drive will have to be wiped (partitions deleted) to make it functional again! (Trust me on this one!)

Note: Windows 8 and up have a new built in defragment program, however we now are seeing computer manufactures using the SSD a the standard media for mass storage, that means your boot drive with the OS on it may be a SSD. There have been improvements to both the SSD technology and the defragment program, however this does not mean that the program will NOT corrupt the drive, your best practice should be to make an image of the OS drive and if you have made a data partition or added a second drive; image those also. Conversely you could just disable the defragment program, a SSD will not become fragmented to such a degree that it will cause a performance problem. Your mechanical hard drive will still need to be defragmented from time to time, consider this: Newer hard drives are in excess of 2 TB of storage, those will take some time to defragment, you many want to do the process in "Safe Mode" and maybe during normal "down time" such as over night.

Suppose you have a 100 Gig hard drive (after formatting), you want to store very large files on it, say your vacation video's. Let's say each video is 1 Gig in size. You could store 100 video's on the drive. As you put your video's on the drive you decide to edit them by adding credits and sound to annotate your videos. Now each video is over 1  Gig in varying degrees. So instead of getting 100 1 Gig video's on the drive you get around 90 1+ Gig videos.

After sometime you decide you don't want some of the video's and delete some.

Then on the next vacation you take a couple of more video's, they however are bigger, and are say 5 Gig in size, after editing they are larger still.

You check the drive space on the drive and it has 30 gig open, ok you only have five video's.

So you start coping them to the drive, it is taking forever. And by last video you get disk drive out of space error.

What you need to do is consolidate the files and free up more space.

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Each time a file is put on a drive there is a certain amount of overhead that you don't see. If each part is written in 256 bytes (yes that is the size of each part on the drive) and of that 256 bytes 16 bytes are the leader, sector marker, and a pointer to the next part. So if the file is written one part after another the leader, and pointer bytes instead of being 10 bytes it is reduced to 4 bytes.

Now it would take a little math but if you can save 6 bytes per part then a 1 Giga Byte file that 6 bytes per part will equal almost 3.5 Mega Bytes of freed up space, now this may seem like a small amount but with 80 1 Gig files that are fragmented that is about 2.4 Gig of space being ate up with the files spread all over the drive.

There is a small problem with defragmenting a full drive, sometimes it will error out if there isn't enough room to write the biggest file on the drive.

To keep your hard drive performance at it's peak you should consider defragmenting it on a scheduled basis.

If you only write files to a hard drive for storage and very seldom delete files then there will not be much in the way of fragmented files.

How ever your C: drive will be fragmented due to the profiles of users being in the Documents and Settings folder.

If you have a drive strictly for data and do a lot of adding and deleting files it will be fragmented also.

With the Windows OS there is a defragment program built in to the Drive Manager. Some people buy third party defragment programs. I have always used the built in defragment program, never had a need for a third party program.

See this page to do your defragmenting.

Which ever way you go with the defrag program these items apply:

  • Run the defragment in Safe Mode (fewer open files and less activity by the OS)
  • Do all you file clean up before running the defragment. (I usually clean out old files once a year - after backing them up).
  • Delete all the temporary files.
  • You may want to delete all user's cookies (they are small files but take time to move around).

To answer the question: "Why is the program so slow?"

The larger the capacity and the fuller it is the longer it will take the program to complete it's task. Add to that time the number of times the drive has had the program run on it. If it has never been done before you can almost double your time to completion.



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Keeping your hard drive clean and defragmenting periodically will improve it's reaction time, which is performance.





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