If you’ve had a computer for a long time and have never even heard of “defragmenting” or “defragging”, then there’s a good chance that you need it. Computers hold lots of data—from programs to files, containing music, video, and text. Your hard drive’s contents can range from the smallest .png image document to the biggest video project ever, depending on your computer’s capacity and capabilities. All of this – on top of processes like copying, moving, and deleting files – takes up space and, after time passes, that data is bound to leave a lot of fragments behind. They are shreds of data that have no form, but stick around in a hard drive and make it harder for users to navigate and run their programs.
Why Defragment a Hard Drive?
As stated above, having these fragments around can disturb computer processes and make things run slower. File access and indexing likewise take more time. Those fragments are why, when you try to open a folder, you have to wait several seconds for the computer to process the command. Searching for files also takes forever when you have that kind of digital clutter. Processes that depend on rapid data transfer (uploading, voip communication, rendering files) lag to frustrating levels if you let the fragments accumulate.
If any of these things are happening to you, then you need to defrag your drive right now.
How do you do it?
Defragging is a fairly simple task. If you use Windows, just click Home Button > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter. This can do the job for you. You can also download programs that can routinely defragment your drive so you can be sure that it’s always in a pristine state. But there are some other things to remember:
– Don’t defragment your junk files! This should be routine for you already—emptying your browser cache, as well as deleting the contents of your recycle bin and other such temporary folders. There are tons of files in these caches, which you don’t even really need anymore. Sorting through and defragging your computer takes a lot longer if you keep them around before you start.
– Defrag only what needs to be defragged. Wise users often have a partition on their hard drive (That is, they have a C:/ drive, a D:/ drive and so on.) It would be best to only defrag the drive where you initiate most of your processes (which is, more often than not, C:/), where all your computer and program files are kept.
– Remember to have a “restore point”. While defragging is not necessarily risky, doing this sort of heavy duty cleanup on a computer may potentially do a bit of harm. So, to lock down against any contingencies, keep a system restore point. These nifty things are like saved versions of the way your computer was at a certain point in time, before any particular changes had been made. Having this ensures that you can at least go back and restore your system in the unlikely event the defragmentation goes wrong.
– Remember to perform regular maintenance. You don’t have to defrag every week, but you still have to have a regular schedule for it. Once a month will do, to keep things running smoothly, and to keep your computer in top form.