Defrag a Hard Drive
What is Defragging? Defragging is process done to a hard
disk in order to improve performance and recover some lost disk
space. Defragging is an essential part of a PC's upkeep as it
keeps all the data on your hard disk in an easily readable
order. If a hard disk is left without defragging, then over
time the disk will begin to lose performance and also slowly
reduce the available capacity to data. As you will be aware if
your hard disk is running slowly then this will affect the rest
of the system performance, in all applications and especially
in games, where frame rate is important.
How does Defragging
When you defrag your hard disk you
re-arrange the order in which the data is stored on the drive.
The PC will arrange the data so that data that belongs together
and needs to be read together is actually put in the same place
on the drive. The obvious question here is why doesn't the PC
store the data in the correct way in the first place? In an
ideal situation (such as a blank disk) the PC would do these as
a first option. However with the amount of data being deleted
and wrote to the disk every second the PC is on it is no wonder
that the data cannot be stored together. Lets have a look at an
example. Say you write 3 files to a disk all 10Mb in size the
data would be all in a line each 10mb block after the other.
This is how your PC would prefer to store the data for maximum
It stands to reason that this is how you would
like it to be stored as well if you needed to search for the
data. But now lets say that you decide to delete the middle
file as its no longer any use to you. You now have a gap inbetween your files. Lets say this time you write a file of
15mb in size. This file will be written in the first 10Mb of
space and the remaining 5Mb added to the backend of the free
space. As you can imagine with the millions of files being
written to and deleted from the disk each day, not to mention
the temporary files that windows uses on a frequent basis its
not hard to imagine the state in which your hard disk can be in
after months of use. After a defrag in this simple example your
PC would re-arrange the disk to look as follows.
When files or
indeed groups of files that belong together are stores next to
each other the PC has a much easier time locating the data plus
the disk heads don't have to travel to different parts of the
disk to retrieve the data required. This of course speeds up
the disks performance and so in turn increases overall system
performance. There are of course levels of performance gains.
It becomes more negligible as you move to faster hard disks
with large memory buffers to compensate for file fragmentation
however I would not ignore the problem of fragmentation, it
doesn't take much effort to defrag your disk now and then
How does defragging increase disk space?
defragging doesn't really create any free space on your hard
disk. It may appear when you look at the graphics that defrag
programs show you, that the disk looks like it has more space,
but all you are doing is moving data about not removing any.
Any disk space gain is negligible and is caused when the defrag
program puts together half clusters of data. Clusters can hold
a number of files, but if not filled the next file is started
at the next cluster. If a file is broken into pieces around the
disk and defrag can put the file back into a single cluster, or
just save a cluster somewhere a small amount of space will be
released. Advanced Defragging Some defragging software
can go a little beyond just sorting your files so they are all
Programs such as Norton Speed Disk can also sort your
entire sets of files and programs into the order that they are
used. For example it can be set so that your windows swap file
is at the fastest part of the disk, followed by games and most
used applications which also need the fastest part of the hard
disk., Then documents etc and rarely used application can be
put to the back of the disk., This gives the priority speed
access to the applications that need it most. Again this may
only be a small increase in performance but every little helps.
Software to use for Defragging You will be pleased to
know that Windows comes with an adequate defrag program which
everyone can use.