Oftentimes, disk defragmentation is suggested by computer experts to boost your PC's performance. However, only little information is provided on why such process is important to your computer. In fact, the word "defragmentation" is mostly not understood by users. Below are some information regarding this topic.
What is fragmentation?
Before you learn about fragmentation, it is important for you to understand first how your computer treats your data. Whenever you store a file, the operating system will save that chunk of data into a contiguous location. This means that every part of your file is saved in one location of your disk.
To illustrate, let the data from the first file be A, and the second file B. These two files will be saved as follows:
As you use your computer, it is inevitable that you will delete some of your files. This creates gaps in your hard drive, which is called fragmentation. Using the same files as before, here is what happens if you delete parts of your file:
If a certain file is too big to be put in a contiguous location, your computer will save parts of that file in the gaps. In our example, if you save another file, this will result to fragmentation. Therefore, your drive will look like this:
Why is fragmentation bad for your system?
A heavily fragmented drive suggests that a lot of files are broken up in separate locations. Thus, whenever you run a fragmented file, it will take time for your computer to look it up in your hard drive. In turn, that certain program won't be able to function efficiently as its data needs to be sourced from several locations in your hard drive.
What is defragmentation?
This process consolidates all the fragmented files into one location, thereby reducing the level of fragmentation in your computer. To do this, you run a defragmentation program. If you're running on Windows, it already has an in-built defragmenter installed. You can access the Disk Defragmenter through the Search function for Windows 7 and 8. For lower versions of Windows, you can find the defragmenter utility in the System Tools, which can be accessed through clicking Start then Accessories.
What should you do before defragging?
The more fragmented the drive is, the more time it takes for the Disk Defragmenter to finish its process. Note, however, that for the defrag tool to run, you need at least 15% of available space in your computer. Therefore, it is recommended that you run Disk Clean up prior to defragmentation. The Disk Clean Up tool will remove all the unnecessary data in your computer, such as temporary internet files and internet cookies. Therefore, because the amount of data to be defragmented is reduced, it only follows that the defragging process will be faster.
Moreover, you have to shut down any running programs before undergoing defragmentation. The defragging process entails that the data be rewritten in a contiguous location. If there is a program running simultaneously with the Disk Defragmenter, chances are that program might write data to your hard drive, which will prolong the defrag process.
What happens during defragmentation?
Upon opening the Disk Defragmenter, you will be asked to select the partition to be defragged. Afterwards, the program will analyze the fragmentation state of the drive. It will then recommend if your drive needs to undergo defragmentation. For example, if your drive is fragmented for about 3% or less, then you might not need to run the process.
Depending on your defrag program, it can also provide the estimated time to which the defragmentation process will be completed. As an example, if your computer is about 35% fragmented, it will probably take overnight for the whole process to be finished.
Lastly, by clicking Defragment, the tool will rearrange the data in your hard drive. It will place the fragmented files together so that all its data will be in a contiguous location. By reuniting the fragmented files, your computer will now be able to run efficiently.
Using our previous example, your drive will look like this after a defragmentation:
Defragmentation extends your computer's life. Assuming that your system is not that fragmented, it will only take a little effort for your drive to access files, thereby increasing its life. Most experts recommended that you always check your drive's fragmentation level for optimal performance of your computer. Knowing these information, you should not wait for your pc to run slowly before you run a "defrag". Better use it now.
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