Defragmenting (Defragging) A Hard Drive

Defragmentation dialogue boxInformation 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)

  1. Start > My Computer
  2. Right click the drive to defrag
  3. Select Properties
  4. The local disk properties box opens. Click the Tools tab
  5. Click the Defragment Now button
  6. 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.
  7. A dialog box will appear once the defrag has completed. Click Close
  8.  Close the Defragmentation utility
  9. Close the Disk Properties box
  10. Close the My Computer box

You’re done.

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 if you need to retrieve the data from the hard drive and can’t do it yourself.