Things You Need to Know About Disk Drive Defragmentation – Learn More About It

You might have been with computers for years now. And whenever you feel that your Windows computer is starting to act slow, or when you notice that there are error messages related to certain “dll” or system files, one of the first things that you might have to do is to defrag your computer. Even if you have no clear understanding on how it works or you only have a slight idea on the processes behind defragmentation, you will still do it. After all, it has worked wonders before and the last tech guy told you to do it if your computer is acting up.

However, you should know more about defragmentation. With newer computers, defragmentation can actually shorten your hard disk’s (the computer part that stores all of your files) lifespan. Also, you might only waste your time doing it since nowadays, fragmentation is the last thing you should worry about.

What is fragmentation anyway? Fragmentation is the tendency of your computer or hard disk to store a file into smaller pieces or fragments and place them into different locations. And the existence of fragmented files can make way for new files to be fragmented, too.

This fragmentation slows down the performance of your hard disk when retrieving and writing files. Why? Imagine that your files are being stored in a CD. The head of an optical device, the “CDROM” as people commonly call it, position itself on top (or below) of the CD in order to read the files burned into it. If the file you want to retrieve or access is fragmented, the head or reader of the CDROM will make additional movements to access the fragments of the files thus adding to the time the head needs to consume in order to read the whole file. Unlike a fragmented file, a continuous file (a file written or ‘burned’ continuously on the disk or without fragments), it is easier to read since the head does not need to search and move in far locations in order to access the file fully.

Not only that fragmentation slows down the read time, but it will also shorten head’s lifespan due to wear and tear. After all, it is a mechanical device that can break down. By the way, regular hard disk drives works like a CDROM. It has a head and a CD (or platter) inside it, where it stores the data you have in your computer. That is why when you try to touch your hard disk drive when your computer is running, you will feel that something is moving or spinning inside.

Now that you have an idea what fragmentation is, it is time to understand your operating system, file system, and its defragmentation processes. In case you are running on a Windows Vista or later on your PC, fragmentation will be the least of your concern. Commonly, Windows Vista or later always force your computer to run on NTFS (NT File System), especially if your hard drive’s capacity is large. NTFS by default has good fragmentation control thanks to its Master File Table (MFT) structure. In case you have Windows XP or earlier, you might have a “FAT32” (File Allocation Table32) on your system, especially if your drive’s capacity is small. Unlike NTFS, FAT32 does not have the same defense against defragmentation.

On the other hand, if you have a Mac, fragmentation will be the least of your concern. Macintosh computers take advantage of Apple’s proprietary file system HFS+ (Hierarchical File System+). HFS+ has multiple anti fragmentation countermeasures. And that is one of the main reason Mac computers do not come with a defragmentation program.

Alternatively, if you are running Linux, your computer must be running on an extended “filesystem”. Nowadays, most Linux installation take advantage of the ext4 (Fourth Extended Filesystem). Unlike its predecessors, it has the Extents feature which greatly reduces the tendency of your drive to become fragmented. And thanks to the partition system of Linux distributions, hard disk performance will be the least of your worries.

However, despite the countermeasures of the Mac and Linux’ filesystems against fragmentation, they are still susceptible. And that will happen when your hard disk’s free space becomes smaller. During that kind of situation, hard disk will be forced to slice up your files into chunks in order to save them.

On a different note, if your main storage device is an SSD (Solid State Device), you should never defragment! Unlike regular HDDs (Hard Disk Drives), the performance of SSDs is not affected by fragmentation since they do not have any moving parts. However, it comes with a price. The storage blocks of SSDs have limited number of read and writes. Due to that, defragmenting them will only reduce its lifespan greatly.

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Author Bio: If you are looking for a dll download to restore missing corrupted files, you can download for free on

Category: Computers and Technology
Keywords: hard disk, disk drive, file system

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