Do I need to defrag my hard drive?

defragmentation

Hard drive tracks and sectors

Do I need to defrag my hard drive?

No. Not really.

Do I need 3rd party defragging s/w?

No. Not at all.

Heresy! This can’t be true!

Sorry. It’s true.

 

Defragmenting a drive reorders the data on the drive so it can be accessed more efficiently and faster. This is true for standard magnetic hard drives.

You should NEVER defrag a solid state drive (SSD)! Defragmentation is not an issue with them and defragging it can shorten the life of the SSD. Windows automatically disables defragging on SSDs when it sees one in the system.

There are two reasons why you don’t need to defrag your drive:

  • Windows since Vista does it automatically for you once a week if you leave your PC/laptop running all the time.
  • Hard drives are so large these days compared to the amount of data people put on them, fragmentation is rarely an issue. The memory buffer built into drives (cache) is so large and optimized that it hides a lot of performance loss even if the drive is fragmented.

3rd party defraggers may do it faster than the Windows defragger, give you pretty graphs, and a sense of accomplishment but that’s about it. The very minor increase in system performance will hardly be noticed.

Also, 3rd party defraggers often include Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) that may inject adware. It’s not worth it.

If your system is running slow, defragging it is not going to address the real cause. It’s much more likely that you have PUPs, adware and malware that is slowing it down.

These days when I tune and clean a system, less than 1% of them need to be defragged.

If you want to check this yourself do the following:

On Vista/Win 7 go to the Start menu and search for “disk defrag”.

On Win 8/8.1, drag the mouse pointer to the bottom right of the screen. When the Charms menu pops out on the right, click the Search icon and type in “disk defrag”.

Click the disk defragmenter option. Select your C drive and select “Analyze”. Windows will tell you if you need to defrag the drive. If you do, select the defrag option.