When I am performing a tune-up on someone’s computer, they almost always ask me if I am going to defrag their computer. This is a term many people have heard of but most don’t know what it is or why it should or shouldn’t be done.
The process of defrag is to fix all of the fragmented files on a spinning hard drive. Each time you write to (save a file to) a hard drive, it places it in the same spot where it was saved before. If the area is not big enough for the entire file, the rest of the file will be saved in the next available spot. Over time, all of your files will be in pieces scattered across your hard drive. This increases the time it takes to access these files.
Fragmentation is usually not noticeable unless your hard drive is more than 75 percent full. Regardless of how full your drive is, Windows is already regularly defragging your drive on a regular schedule unless defrag has been disabled or if your computer is not turned on when the defrag is scheduled.
I mentioned only spinning hard drives above, because solid state drives really don’t require defragging because they access your files in a different way and the fragments don’t affect the speed. Solid state drives can only be written so many times before they fail, so unnecessary defragging could shorten the life of solid state drives.
Although this has been an overly simplified explanation, I hope this has given you a better understanding of defragging. If you have other questions about this, or need help determining if defrag is indeed scheduled on your computer, I can help with that.