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Is Defragmentation (Defrag) Necessary?

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management

Shaz writes:

Is defragmentation of drives necessary ? Please explain.

defrag hard drive folders

To understand why defragmentation (or defrag) is necessary, let’s go over how a hard drive stores files. Your hard drive is made up of sectors and blocks, which are like file folders and filing cabinets in an office. When a document, picture or other file wants to save to your hard drive the drive needs to find space to put it. To make most efficient use of the space on your hard drive (and allow you to easily delete/move files), the hard drive breaks up the files into little pieces and stores them where there is available space on the drive. The result of this is a file that may exist as a single, but pieces of it may be in 3 different parts of the hard drive. When you go to open the picture the hard drive knows to look in those 3 separate areas to get the complete file.

So why do you need to defragment if the hard drive knows where to look? Two reasons: Speed and wear-and-tear.

Speed: Every time the hard drive needs to move the read head to a new location it takes a certain amount of time to move. If the file is in one single area of the hard drive, the head only needs to move once to read the file. If the file is contained in 3 different places, the head needs to move 3 times to get the same file, making the time it takes to load longer.

Wear-and-tear: As a mechanical device, your hard drive read head moves a lot as it accesses files. Limiting the amount of times it has to move is going to increase the drives lifespan.

By defragmenting the hard drive all the files that can be lined up together are moved so that the hard drive reads files faster, has less movement needed, and lasts longer. Win/Win!

We recommend Defraggler to defragment your hard drive available at:


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4 Responses to “Is Defragmentation (Defrag) Necessary?”

  1. DAN LOUCKS says:

    why is in not necessary to defrag mac hard drives ?

    i wish you had more mac info in your emails.

  2. Maurie Rose says:

    Back in the day (80s) there were applications to allow you modify the position of the data on your hard drive so that your computer would work faster. As well as a defragmentation tool, there was an optimisation type of tool. You had to decide what optimisation level was required and this was to allow the read head to read x amount of data, write it to memory then when it was ready, read the next lot of data on the platter. The optimisation came about by having the data at the correct place on the platter at the optimal time, so that the disk only had to spin a minimal amount for the read head to be at the required data. Playing with that application gave you an appreciation of what optimisation is. All this on a 20Mb hard disk.



  4. Daizy says:

    Defragmentation is necessary to keep your Mac optimized. Over a period of time there are lots of fragments created on Mac disk and your Mac starts slowing down. To get rid of this problems, you need to use any Mac defrag tool like Stellar Drive Defrag. This tool can keep all fragmented data together in Mac and speed up it.

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