Defragmentation: How it works and it is used for
Until a few years ago, defragmentation was one of the most widely used methods to make a computer perform better. Although this is currently less important than in the past, file fragmentation on the disk can still, in the long run, make your PC extremely slow.
In these cases, excessive disk fragmentation prevents the operating system from accessing files and information on the hard disk quickly and efficiently. What can be done in these cases? In addition to the special tool available with almost any version of Windows, there are also third-party software that helps in this regard. But before going into this, it is good to understand what is meant by disk fragmentation.
Defragmentation: what is disk fragmentation
Saving data on the computer’s hard disk is a procedure that does not occur linearly. The archived data must gradually occupy the free space on the disk. Often, therefore, it also happens that a single file turns out to be too large and is, therefore “unpacked” and redistributed in different sections of the hard disk, perhaps physically very distant from one another.
As it is logical, in the long run, this can create slowdowns in the functioning of the computer. If to read the same file (or anyway the files of the same program), the head has to physically cover large spaces on the hard disk, the loading times are greatly affected.
How to defrag your hard drive
If you install and uninstall many programs or in any case after months and months of use of the computer, defragmentation is therefore recommended. During this particular operation, the hard disk is analyzed in all its surface and the various files are reorganized to bring back some order. In this way, the access times to the various files will decrease considerably and the speed of the device in use could benefit not a little from this.
Defragment directly from Windows
Fortunately, Microsoft developers accompany each new operating system with a tool that is suitable for the purpose. To defragment directly from Windows, simply click on the Start button and, in the search field, type the word Defragmentation. Regardless of the version of Windows, something should appear that sounds similar to Defragment and optimize drives (Windows 10) or Disk Defragmenter (previous Windows).
By clicking on the instrument in question, it is possible to have a general overview on the status of the fragmentation of the disk (or of the multiple disks/partitions) present.
Besides some notions, it will be possible to select the HD (or one of those present) and click on Optimize (Windows 10) or Defragment disk (previous versions) to start the procedure. However, it must be pointed out that defragmentation has lost importance compared to the past. This consideration must be made mainly for two factors:
- from Windows 7 onwards, Windows versions automatically defragment. It is therefore almost superfluous in most cases
- defragmentation is not particularly useful for SSD media
Why don’t you need to defragment on MacOS?
Even MacOS provides procedures to fight disk fragmentation. The operating system created by Apple periodically groups smaller files and places them in memory spaces suitable for their size, defragmenting the disk. At the same time, the same OS integrates the Hot File Adaptive Clustering function, able to find open files with a greater frequency, moving them to a memory location that allows a faster execution. To this, macOS integrates numerous other useful functions to counteract the fragmentation of files on the disk.
When is it still convenient to defragment?
Nowadays this operation is only recommended for a particular user niche. Who uses a rather dated version of Windows with mechanical hard drives, still needs to defragment with a certain consistency. In some cases, even in the mobile sector, this operation can be useful. Below we will report some software that, in different contexts, can be a more than a valid tool for defragmentation.
Free and space-saving, SpeeDefrag is an app to support Windows utilities. In fact, it allows to make defragmentation faster by closing all the processes in operation that hinder the procedure. Very useful as a support for those who still use defragmentation using Windows tools.
This is an app developed by the guys from Piriform, already known to Ccleaner. It is a very functional software, as well as free and simple to use. Defraggler can concentrate its activity on folders or even specific files. In addition, it checks for errors on HD, empties the recycle bin before starting its work and can also exclude some specific files from defragmentation.
Smart Defrag is an alternative that allows you to plan automatic defragmentation, in addition to proposing some extremely advanced specific functions.
Also, in this case, it is possible to exclude files and folders from the analysis, excluding the defragmentation of files that exceed a certain size.
Disk Speedup is able to operate on files not only of entire disks but also of individual folders. It also supports automatic defragmentation when the system remains idle for a certain number of minutes (a very useful option to take advantage of the time when the computer is on but not working). This is a free app although care must be taken: during installation, the installer may try to install other unwanted software.
Smart Defrag Toolwiz
With Toolwiz Smart Defrag we rely on a small and simple software, which prefers practicality to frills. According to the developers, this tool would be about 10 times faster than the default Windows tool. Surely this is a very quick and practical tool to perform this task.
Auslogics Disk Defrag
Available both as an installable file and in Auslogics Disk Defrag portable mode, it works to arrange system files in areas that are easier to reach than HD. This allows for considerable advantages in terms of computer performance. Among the various tasks performed by the app, there is the possibility to check for errors on a partition with the chkdsk command, to optimize a hard disk, to exclude files or folders from defragmentation and much more.