Windows Defragmentation

How to defragment your Windows hard drive

Due to the difference in technology, HDDs are inherently slower than their HDD counterparts, and their performance decreases over time as you store more and more data on them. This can be attributed to data fragmentation during the writing process. However, there is a simple fix for that called defragmentation. In this article, we are going to go through some simple methods to help you defragment your Windows hard drive and get a huge performance improvement.

What is defragmentation?

To understand what defragmentation is, you need to know how a hard drive works. Think of the latter as a train where coaches store and carry data. Each time you add more data to your hard drive, it is broken down into smaller bits or pieces, and a new coach is added to the train to store that data. These trainers are added in a sequential manner.

However, when you delete a file, the coach containing that specific file is emptied but not completely removed from the train, creating an empty space. As the hard drive reads and writes data, more of these spaces are created over time.

Now, in the process of storing more data, the hard drive fills the empty trainers with some pieces of data and creates new trainers for the remaining pieces. This results in data being scattered all over the hard drive. Although it seems effective that these empty spaces were finally used, this is not the case.

The problem here is that when bits of data are stored apart from each other, it takes a while for your computer to remember them all before they are presented to you again. This slows down the overall read speed of the hard drive. This is another reason why computers that depend on a hard drive tend to slow down when your storage is nearly full. The process of reversing this breakdown and reorganizing the data on the hard drive is called defragmentation.

These days Windows automatically defragments mechanical hard drives. However, it only works with drives that are physically connected to the motherboard. So, if you have an old or external hard drive, it is always a good idea to defragment it yourself for smoother performance.

How to defragment a hard drive in Windows 10 and 11

Now that we know what defragmentation means, we can start with the steps to do it manually on your computer.

1. Use Disk Optimization Tool

  1. Open Disk Optimization Tool – Search for “Defragment and Optimize Drives” in Windows Search.
Open Windows Disk Defragmenter
  1. Select your hard drive from the list of available drives and click Analyze. Note that if you have an SSD, this option will not be available.
hard disk analysis
  1. Check the percentage of fragmented files in the results.
Hard Disk Fragmenting

Noticeable: There is no hard and fast rule regarding how fragmented your drive will be before you can defragment the drive. However, you should try to keep the hash level below 5% so that the defragmentation process does not take too long.

  1. Click Optimize if you want to defragment the drive. It is best to perform this procedure when you do not need to use your computer for anything else, to allow Windows to properly defragment your hard drive.
Optimize your drives

When Windows finishes this process, Optimize Drives should display your drive as 0% fragmented.

2. Scheduling optimization

You can put this entire defragmentation process into an automated schedule from the same location.

  1. Find the “Scheduled optimization” section, and click “Change settings”.
Change table settings
  1. From the Optimization schedule drop-down list, set the frequency to Weekly or Monthly, and click Choose.
Set defragmentation schedule
  1. Check the drives for which you want to schedule defragmentation and click OK.
Select drives
  1. Click OK again to save changes.

3. Use the command line

  1. press Wins + X And choose “Windows Terminal (Admin)” from the popup menu.
Open Windows Terminal
  1. To defragment that drive, use the following command, and replace X with your drive letter:
Defragmentation with Windows Terminal

Wait for the defragmentation process to complete.

Windows Terminal Decoagulation Command

If you want to defragment your entire system except for the main drive, use this command instead: defrag /E X:. Here, X is the drive letter you want to exclude.

4. Use a third-party defragmentation tool

Instead of using the built-in defragmentation tool, you can also use third-party defragmentation tools like MyDefrag or Auslogics Disk Defrag to achieve the same results.

  1. Download and install Auslogics’ Disk Defrag on your computer.
  2. Run Disk Defrag. On the main screen, select your storage drive and click Defrag.
Select the drive and start defragmentation
  1. Depending on the size of your drive, it may take some time to defragment your hard drive.
Defragmentation in progress
  1. Once the process is complete, you will get a message saying “Defragmentation completed”.
Disk defragmentation completed
  1. Close Disk Defrag.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of defragmenting your hard drive?

When your computer creates a new file, it saves the file in different locations as fragments. The next time you want to open this file, you will have to open all the locations where the data bits are stored. This takes extra time because your system reads the disk multiple times. By defragmenting your drive, you will gather these pieces of data together and boost the performance of your device in turn.

Are there reasons not to defragment your computer?

If your computer has a mechanical hard disk installed or you have an external hard disk, you will always want to defragment those disks. The one exception where you never need to defragment your computer is when it’s only using a solid state drive (SSD) or an M.2 NVMe drive, as these are recent versions of mechanical drives and they defragment themselves automatically without the need for manual intervention. . If you defragment these drives, at best, it won’t do anything, but it can also cause unnecessary damage if done too many times.

How often should you defragment your hard drive?

For most Windows users, defragmenting your hard drive once a month should be a good thing. You can use your computer’s built-in Scheduled Optimization feature to set a monthly hard drive cleaning cycle. Not only does it reduce the need to do it manually, but it also improves the performance of your hard drive. However, if regular defragmentation of your hard drive doesn’t speed it up, you should consider upgrading it to an SSD.

Image credit: Pixabay

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