What is defragmenting and should you still do it? Defragmenting your computer means re-organizing the data on your hard-drive to improve access time.

While you use your computer, data is constantly being written to – and read from – the drive. Over time, the data becomes fragmented as the file system stores the data in different locations on the drive. This is why Disk Drives need to be defragmented.

We Defrag Drives Because of the How Drive Physically Works

Physical Disk Drives are electromechanical equipment. This means that they are electrically operated mechanical devices. A typical Disk Drive looks something like this:

disc drive diagram

As you see above, the Spindle turns the Drive, allowing the Recording Head to access the different tracks on the Platter. The Platter is what the readable / writable plates are called that make up the total disk.

By defragmenting the drive, we literally move data into more logical arrangements, storing the actual bytes in places (called clusters) that make more sense to the drive system. This way when the recording head needs to access a file that uses multiple clusters, it does so with the least amount of operations possible.

Obviously this improves drive access performance, which speeds up your PC.

Defragmenting on Modern Operating Systems

Although modern operating systems have greatly improved their performance, they are still running on the physical system hardware that all PCs need. So you are still required to defrag the drive system from time to time.

When you do this, you rebuild the File Allocation Table (FAT) that the operating system uses to run the PC.

Defragmenting on Windows 10

Windows 10 was released in 2015 and has since replaced Windows 7 as the most widely used operating system. Currently, over 700 million devices run on Windows 10 globally (as of January 2019).

Each iteration of Windows has improved on the automatic maintenance tasks required by your PC. From Windows 7, Disk Checking and Defragmenting were automatically scheduled for you by Windows. This is also true for Windows 10.

You can still manually defragment your drive, or if you’ve cancelled the scheduled task, you may want set it up again. You can see how to do that in the steps below.

1. Check the Defragmenting Status of Your Disk Drive

To verify that Windows is defragmenting your drive regularly, first hit the Windows button and type “defragment”.

You can then select “Defragment and Optimize Drives” from the search results.  

windows 10 defrag process

Neat Tip: Windows 10 optimized the Start Menu for searching. So instead of having to click through the options (like in Windows 7), you can just hit the Windows key and start typing the name of application or program you are looking for.

The Windows key is the button with the four squares, usually located between Ctrl and Alt:

windows key on keyboard

Selecting the “Defragment and Optimize Drives” application, will open the Windows 10 Drive Optimization Window.

drive optimization

From the above image, you can note the following.

  • From the Status section, you can see a list of the Drives used by the PC and their Defrag / Optimization Status.

windows optimization

The “media type” column will tell you if the drive requires Defragmenting or not.

solid state or disc

  • The “last run” column will give you the date that the last Optimization or Defragment operations was run.
  • The “current status” column will give you details regarding the health of your drives.

The list will include any external drives connected to your PC. They can also be Optimized or Defragmented, depending on the type.

external drive defrag

2. Analyze the Drive for Fragmentation

Before a Disk Drive is defragmented, it is first analyzed by the application. During this process the application will check for files stored on the drive, and what their distribution on the Disk Drive is. Based on this test, it will allow you to Optimize (including Defragment) the Disk Drive.

analyze disc drive

After the drive is analyzed, you can start the defragmentation process – if it is required.

defrag process

3. Scheduling Defragment and Optimization Task

From the Schedule Maintenance section, you can see if you’re Drive Defragmentation and Optimization is scheduled or not.

defrag schedule

For peace of mind, it is recommended that the Schedule setting is on. Clicking the “Change settings” button will allow you to change the settings.

setup defrag schedule

PC Maintenance Automation

Part of good PC maintenance is regularly checking your system for performance related issues. Scheduling these tasks will save you time and effort, also ensuring your PC performs at its best at all times.

One application that can help you achieve this is Driver Support. The software will catalog your PCs hardware and verify that you have the latest, correct drivers installed. Out of date drivers can cause performance issues, sometimes even causing unexpected behavior from a device.

By using Driver Support, you will ensure that only the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) drivers are used on your system. Driver Support helps you by downloading and installing all the drivers your hardware needs, for you. Take control of your PC’s maintenance and performance today and Download Driver Support.