Defragmenting Your Hard Drive – What is it and How Should You Do it?

  • Comments: 1
  • Written on: March 20th, 2009

It might surprise you to find that the data that appears to be so neatly organized inside files and folders on your computer is actually more jumbled than a bucket full of Scrabble letters.

While a computer’s hard drive is very precise in remembering where it has stored your data, it does tend to store it in some strange places from time to time.

Unlike a neatly organized filing cabinet, your computer breaks up large files into smaller file fragments tailored to fill the first available free spaces on your hard drive.

This process of saving file fragments in the first available slot on your hard drive forces your computer to work harder to read an entire file from start to finish. Because the computer must work harder to read a particular file or program, it takes more time to complete even a simple task like sending an email. Organizing these scattered file fragments into one continuous file on your hard drive is called defragmenting.

To better understand the concept, imagine picking up today’s newspaper and reading a front page article. After a few paragraphs you are asked to turn to another page to continue reading the story.

It takes you some time to open the paper, turn to the proper page, and find the story to continue reading. Now imagine that you are required to move to a different page after each paragraph of the story. It would take a lot more time to read the fragmented story than it would have if the story was printed on a single page.

The same concept applies to your hard drive. It takes time for the mechanical components of your hard drive to skip all over your drive and locate all of the fragments of a single file. Over time, hard drives can become so fragmented that they begin to boot slower that they used to or seem sluggish when performing common tasks.

Regularly defragmenting your hard drive will take all of the file fragments that are scattered about your drive and organize them into complete files. Since you hard drive can now read the fragments as one continuous file, your computer will perform faster than it did in its fragmented state.

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