Understanding The Significance Of Defragmentation On Your Computer

You may have noticed in the past that your computer was not working in its normal speed, and a friend or an expert may have suggested you defrag your hard drives. You may also have noticed that your computer was function at normal speed again or even better. However, you may not have paid much attention as to why defragging your hard drives worked. Learn how this process works, and how you can use it regularly to optimize your hard drives, thus enhancing them for better performance.

Understanding how your computer stores data is a prerequisite for understanding defragmentation. When a hard drive is storing data such as a file, the computer's operating system tries to store the same file in a section of contiguous, locations that are connecting without a space or break. Storing data in contiguous spaces is usually no problem when you have a new hard drive. Nevertheless, as you continue to use your hard drive, you will delete data from it, thus creating tiny pockets of space on the hard drive. These tiny pockets of space in the hard drive are known as fragmentation.

When a hard drive becomes fragmented, and the operating system wants to store data on it, it will attempt to store the data in a section of contiguous space is sufficiently large to accommodate the data. If your hard disk is heavily fragmented, there could not be sufficient contiguous space available to sore data, hence the operating system will break the data into and store it in multiple locations on your hard drive. As a result, the file too becomes fragmented. This can especially be disadvantageous when installing new software on the computer since the application will be installed on multiple locations in the hard drive. The performance of this software will be degraded when you try to run it.


To overcome this problem, software developers created applications known as disk defragmenters. In basic terms, a disk defragmenter recognizes data on your hard drive's partitions in such a way that it stores the files in as much contiguous space is available. This application will search your hard drive's partitions and move data from one location to another, such that the files stored are a single contiguous piece rather than being spread throughout countless locations on the partitions of the hard drive. This enables the data and programs to run quickly and more efficiently since the operating system does not have to read from many locations. There are two main ways of defragging a hard drive, which are using a disk defragmenter and using a spare empty hard drive.

Using a disk defragmenter
Here are some steps you can take to defrag your hard drive using a disk defragmenter application. Even though the steps outlined below are tailored for those using windows XP, the general principles apply in other operating systems:
  1. Close all applications: the first thing you want to do is shut down all applications including disabling your antivirus so that the process can be smooth and quick.
  2. Run the disk defragmenter: Windows operating system comes with a tool called disk defragmenter. You can locate this tool under the System Tools folder under Accessories in the Start Menu. Click once on the disk defragmenter, select the partition you want to defrag and click on the Analyze button.
  3. Analyze the partitions: Once you click on the Analyze button, the program will run an analysis of the partition to show you how badly it is fragmented. Do this for all your partitions to find out, which one is badly off so that you can begin with that one. Make a habit of reading the report.
  4. Defragment the partitions: Before defragmentation can take place, a partition must meet various requirements. For instance, it must have at least 15% free space on the drive. If a partition is marked dirty, it will not defrag since it may be corrupted. You can only defrag one partition at a time, and you can only defrag local drives.
Defragmenting using an extra empty hard drive
Perhaps the quickest and most efficient way to defragment your hard drive, if your budget allows, is t use a spare hard drive of equal storage capacity. You would then copy all your data from the fragmented hard drive to the spare hard drive. You would then delete all the data from the fragmented hard drive, and copy all the data from the clean hard drive back to the old hard drive.
Today's featured writer, Nancy Baker, is a freelance blogger, who often writes for Hard Drives For Sale. She likes to practice yoga to stay healthy and fit. You can also follow her on Twitter @Nancy Baker.

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