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Don’t Defrag Your Flash Drive!

Friday, February 29th, 2008 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management
 
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I have accumulated several flash drives over the years and I was just wondering if I should ever defragment them. I know we have to do it for our hard drives, but are flash drives the same? Please explain!

The simple answer to today’s question is: you should never defrag a flash drive. Does that surprise some of you? Well, let me explain! Let’s first talk a little about hard drives. The files you have stored on your hard drive are usually saved in several little pieces, often in groups of 512 bytes. Now, those chunks of data are usually never placed next to each other or even remotely close to each other. Therefore, your files are generally spread out all over your hard drive, which is why defragging is so important.

The whole defrag process is done through a read/write head that rearranges your files and places them back together for you. That way, when you need to access a certain file, everything is put back together and your computer doesn’t have to work as hard to find what you’re looking for. Defragging simply helps speed up your system when you need to open a certain file. Yep, that’s why it’s so vital that you defrag on a regular basis (at least once a month or so).

On the other hand, flash drives do not have a read/write head, so if you were to defrag one, you wouldn’t get any extra performance benefits from it whatsoever. Basically, without a read/write head, flash drives don’t have to work any harder to find your files. Your files can be laid out in any order and your flash drive will still be just as fast when finding them for you. Still not convinced? Then keep reading!

Another reason why you should never defrag a flash drive is because flash memory wears out over time. Basically, the more you write (saving files, etc.) to your flash drive, the shorter its lifespan will be. And since defragging is a huge write process, every time you do it, you’re adding thousands of extra writes to your device that just aren’t necessary. So, if you’ve been continuously defragging your flash drives, you should stop. If you want your flash drive to last you a long while, simply stop the defrags. You won’t get any benefit from it and you’ll just end up with a broken down flash drive for no reason at all. Go and defrag your hard drive instead!

~Erin

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