What Defragmenting a Computer Means

The word defragmenting is quite similar to the word reorganizing in its meaning and purpose. The only difference being that the former relates to a computer’s hard drive storage. Over lengthy periods of time and with continuous usage, the various folders (and the files within them) that are stored on the computer’s hard drive tend to become fragmented. This means they become disorganized and are often stored in the wrong place. This has a multitude of effects on the said computer’s performance. Chief among them is general slowness and an obvious reduction in the processing power.

This is where a defragmenting tool or program can help. Apart from gathering all the scattered files and folders, the program also organizes them in a proper manner. This speeds up the computer and improves the retrieval times significantly.

Fragmentation Causes

Fragmentation is something that’s going to exist in every computer’s hard drive. Disorganization of files usually occurs due to unexpected or improper shut downs, repeated installations and uninstallations of certain programs, lack of an Anti-Virus program on the computer and many more. Problems tend to increase with rise in fragmentation.

Problems that May Arise

Every time you launch or run a software program, it needs to access certain files stored on the hard drive. In case these files are spread out all over the hard drive then the system will have to work that much more to locate those files and then access them. This will result in severe delays and cause a lot of time loss. In cases where the fragmentation is of a very high level, some software programs may even stop running completely.

What Happens in Defragmentation

Defragmenting, also known as defragging, aims to bring together all the files that are related to each other from the different parts of a hard drive. It simply organizes all such files in a sequential manner. This enables the computer to access those files in a very smooth and efficient way. As a result of this relocation and reorganization, all the free space in the computer is left as one big unit. This enables the computer to save all new files in an orderly and systematic fashion, which reduces the need for defragmentation in the future.

Principle Benefits

While earlier hard drives were a lot smaller, today’s drives have capacities that often run into Terabytes. In such cases, regular defragmentation can help lengthen the hard drive’s lifespan. The system is stressed quite a lot in working with a fragmented hard drive. This shortens its lifespan quite a bit. So in theory at least, defragmentation helps hard drives last longer.

How to Defragment and its Frequency

Most Windows based computers have an inbuilt tool for defragmentation purposes. This can be found in the ‘System Tools’ section. Most of these tools also have an inherent analysis feature that examines the suitability of a hard drive for the defragmentation process. Defragmentation can also be performed through the ‘C prompt’ using the ‘defrag’ command line.

Although there is no specified frequency for the same, it is generally recommended to get defragmentation done every two months on a computer.