Information stored on hard drive using the Windows filesystem is prone to file fragmentation. As data is added to the drive, it is written sequentially on the drive’s platters; as information is accessed and edited however, parts of the file are moved out of sequence. This means that the read/write heads must travel to different parts of the hard drive to read a single file. Defragmenting the hard drives rewrites files so they are in sequential sectors positioned next to each other, and should be a regular maintenance task. Desktop and laptop machines should be defraged every two weeks or so, servers that are used much more heavily than PC’s should be ‘defragged’ on a weekly basis.
Linux Ext2 and Ext3 Filesytems
Both Ext2 and Ext3 filesystems rarely need to be defragmented as they do not write data sequentially but insterad write new data to a new area of the platter not near the other data. A hard drive with a Linux operating system writes to different points on the platters each time a new file is saved. The data is sufficiently spread out over the drive’s geometry so the drive only needs to be defragged when it becomes almost full.
How To Defrag A Hard Drive (Windows)
- Start > My Computer
- Right click the drive to defrag
- Select Properties
- The local disk properties box opens. Click the Tools tab
- Click the Defragment Now button
- Click Analyze – When the analysis dialog box opens, click Defragment and the process will begin. This may take a long time (several hours) before it completes, depending how badly fragmented the data on the hard drive is.
- A dialog box will appear once the defrag has completed. Click Close
- Close the Defragmentation utility
- Close the Disk Properties box
- Close the My Computer box
What To Do If The Defrag Was Not Successful ?
Defragmenting a hard drive is an intensive process, particularly for the hard drive being defragged. If the process doesn’t complete it’s highly probably that there’s a serious problem with the hard drive. Defragging will usually make hard drive problems worse and you should contact a data recovery company like The Data Clinic at www.dataclinic.co.uk/ if you need to retrieve the data from the hard drive and can’t do it yourself.