Why do we defragment the Hard Disk?
What is defragging?, Defragging is a process carried out to hard disk to improve performance and recover some lost disk space. Defragging is an important part of PC maintenance because it keeps all data on your hard disk in an easy-to-read sequence. If the hard disk is left without defrag, then over time the disk will begin to lose performance and also slowly reduce the capacity available for data. As you know if your hard disk is running slow then this will affect the rest of the system performance, in all applications and especially in games, where frame rates are important.
How does defragging improve performance?
When you defrag your hard disk, you rearrange the order of data storage on the drive. The PC will organize data so that data that is shared and needs to be read together is actually placed in the same place on the drive. The obvious question here is why doesn’t the PC store data the right way from the start? In an ideal situation (such as a blank disk) the PC will do this as the first option. But with the amount of data deleted and written to disk every second the PC is active, it is not surprising that data cannot be stored together.
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you write 3 files to disk all 10MB in size data will be all in one line every 10MB block after another. This is how your PC prefers to store data for maximum performance. It makes sense that this is how you want it to be stored too if you need to find data. But now let’s say you decide to delete the middle file because it’s no longer useful to you. You now have a gap between your files.
Say this time you write a file 15MB in size. This file will be written in the first 10MB space and the remaining 5MB added to the backend free space. As you can imagine with millions of files that are written and deleted from disk every day, not to mention the temporary files that Windows often uses it is not difficult to imagine a situation where your hard disk can be used after months. After defrag in this simple example your PC will rearrange the disk to look as follows.
When files or indeed groups of files that are held together are kept side by side, the PC has a much easier time to find data plus the disk head does not need to travel to various parts of the disk to retrieve the data needed. This of course speeds up disk performance and in turn increases overall system performance. Of course there is a level of performance achievement. It becomes more neglected when you move to the hard disk faster with a large memory buffer to compensate for file fragmentation but I will not ignore the fragmentation problem, it doesn’t take much effort to defrag your disk now and then
How does defrag increase disk space?
Simply put, defragging does not really make free space on your hard disk. This might appear when you look at a graphic showing the defrag program to you, that the disk seems to have more space, but all you do is move data so as not to delete it. Any additional disk space can be ignored and is caused when the defrag program collects half the data group. Clusters can hold a number of files, but if not filled in the next file starts on the next cluster. If the file is broken into sections around the disk and defrag can put the file back to one cluster, or just save a cluster somewhere a small amount of space will be released.
Some defragging software can be a little more than just sorting your files so they are all together. Programs such as Norton Speed Disk can also sort all sets of files and programs into their order of use. For example it can be arranged so that your Windows swap file is the fastest part of the disk, followed by the most frequently used games and applications which also require the fastest part of the hard disk, then documents etc. and applications that are rarely used can be inserted into the back of the disk. giving priority access speed to the applications that need them the most. Again this might just be a small increase in performance but every little bit helps.
Software used to defragment
You will be glad to know that Windows is equipped with an adequate defrag program that can be used by everyone. There are also some other software out there for more specific uses. Norton Speed Disk is one of the options on the market that comes as part of Norton Utilities and Norton Systemworks. Doing a search on the Defrag software in your favorite search engine will give you several free options to use and pay for the software.