Windows 7

General discussion

Poll: How often do you defrag your hard drive?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / May 20, 2011 9:33 AM PDT

Windows users, how often do you defrag your hard drive?

-- Once a week (Why so often?)
-- Once a month
-- A few times a month.
-- Once a year.
-- When I feel like it needs it. (How do you determine that?)
-- Never. (Why not?)
-- What's defragging, is that even a word?

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Not needed
by msgale / May 20, 2011 10:47 AM PDT

Windows 7 does it automatically in the background, anything more is a waste of time, and possibility money, if you buy a third party application.

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you are defragmenting once a week
by glen271 / May 21, 2011 3:22 AM PDT
In reply to: Not needed

If Windows is set to defrag in the background once a week, then you are indeed defragmenting once a week. And yes, defraging is necessary.

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Polarisphils
by polarisphils / July 12, 2011 2:22 AM PDT
In reply to: Not needed

I guess, you are right

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Once a week
by Dango517 / May 20, 2011 11:10 AM PDT

and my system does work better after the scan.

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No Need...
by ESUNintel / May 20, 2011 12:11 PM PDT

My computers have SSD's - so no defraging needed. I do need to recondition it once a year or so for bad blocks.

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Defrag regularly
by dangnad1 / May 20, 2011 12:53 PM PDT

To msgale: Win7 does NOT defrag automatically unless you set it to do so. Never set Windows to defrag on a schedule. For that matter, completely disable and delete Windows defrag, it don't work.
To ESUNintel: Why did you bother to post if you have SSDs.
To Leo Koo: What's the difference between "once a week" and "a few times a month" and why is "once a week" suspect?
Here's how to do it. Get a good defragger (Defraggler, Auslogics-bad mapper, ...) and start with once a week. Check % fragmented. If it is above 5-6% do the defrag. Do a feedback loop until you determine how fast your C: drive gets fragmented. If it takes two weeks to get up to 6% then defrag every two weeks.
People who say defragging is unnecessary (on a real HD, not SSD) are relying on the speed of today's modern systems with tiny seek times. Point granted but why have a 50% fragmented drive? There is an aesthetics about computing that says get your s*** together. Concatenate your files. Have a beautiful hard drive with ALL the files neatly situated on its inside cylinders.

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Huh
by msgale / May 20, 2011 2:15 PM PDT
In reply to: Defrag regularly

Why do you say that Windows degragement does not work? Specifica please.

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Win defragger
by dangnad1 / May 20, 2011 2:24 PM PDT
In reply to: Huh

Windows defragger doesn't work because it can't defrag itself. It skips its own processes then asks if you want to defrag them at next startup. What a pain in the ****.

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Seldom ever, really
by john3347 / May 20, 2011 1:42 PM PDT

I select defrag once in a "blue moon" (maybe quarterly) and it usually reports that "your harddrive does not need to be defragmented". (mix of Windows 7 and Windows XP computers on a home network) I probably only defrag any given computer once every year or two. Defragmenting is vastly overrated.

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Overrated
by dangnad1 / May 20, 2011 2:26 PM PDT
In reply to: Seldom ever, really

How is it overrated?

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What He is Saying....
by Corrytonapple / May 22, 2011 4:02 AM PDT
In reply to: Overrated

He may say it is overrated, but that does not mean for everybody. For him, he may not do a lot of saving, deleting, etc on his system, or use his system as much as other people, such as you and me. He may also not be able to feel the difference in his system.

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Defrag
by FiOS-Dave / May 20, 2011 2:15 PM PDT

You left out a category!

I use Diskeeper and it does it in the background, automatically.

Dave

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Diskeeper
by dangnad1 / May 20, 2011 2:29 PM PDT
In reply to: Defrag

You're right. Diskeeper may be the best. I'd still not do it in the background though.

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Transparent Defrag
by Bill_R_TechSpec / May 24, 2011 12:18 PM PDT
In reply to: Diskeeper

I also use Diskeeper to defrag my disks so my category would be continuously as well.

Why so often?

I have seen some files fragmented into over 14,000 pieces on other user's systems. When you consider that each of those pieces has to be located and "assembled" every time that file is accessed, you are looking at A LOT of disk activity.

This is not just a performance issue (obviously it would be much faster to access a contiguous file with one I/O rather than 14,000 I/Os to access the above file); Disks are mechanical and the more they are used, the faster they wear out. It's as simple as that.

I know many users who gripe about how modern disks "wear out much faster than they used to", etc.

But in IMO disks are just used a lot more than they used to be, not just because files are larger than they used to be and so are disks, but because the disks are faster and larger many users don't feel the need to defrag so the disks wear out prematurely.

Every time a user downloads a file, saves it, plays it, edits it, adds to it, deletes from it, saves it again and then deletes it all together, either fragmented files or fragmented free space are left behind (and fragmented free space further causes new files to fragment so they can occupy the fragmented free space).

So keeping disks defragmented makes them last longer as they are simply used a lot less if the files are not broken into thousands of pieces and scattered all over the disk (my disks "somehow" last much longer than most people I know...)

And as a bonus, the PC performs much better as well.

It's really a no-brainer in my book.....

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Defragmenting is never required
by hypercrit / May 20, 2011 3:35 PM PDT

I've never had a drive that got fragmented in the first place, so the defrag utility never recommends running the process. What kind of activity causes fragmenting to occur?

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It Happens
by Hforman / May 20, 2011 5:21 PM PDT

Even if you have tons of free disk space, you can still get fragmented. My suggestion is to at least run an analyze function with a defragging tool. If it says you should defrag, try it and see if it helps. It is caused by deleting a lot of files and Windows tries to re-use the space. Also by files expanding. Say you have just put a database or some other file out there. Now, other files are "in front" of your file and others move in "behind" your file. Now, you try to add more information to the file but the file is pretty much locked-in by other files. So, to find more room, it just locates another block of space and extends the file there. So now, regardless of the size of the file, you will need to do separate I/Os for each piece. Picture having a 10 MB file that is split up with the average piece only about 15K. How many I/Os would you need? I/O is the thing that slows your computer up the most. Also, compressing and decompressing files can cause fragmentation. Frequently used or recently used files should not be compressed.

For some people drives get fragmented easily while others don't need it very often. Usually, large hard drives with plenty of free space eliminates the need for a lot of this.

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Fragmenting is happening
by orlbuckeye / May 25, 2011 12:49 AM PDT

when lots of deleting and saving of files. Say you delete a file that is 50 MB and then you save a file 100 mb. When the file saved get written it will save it to the 50 MB deleted and then look for the next available space. So in the disk mgmt the you need multiple addresses to retrieve that file. When you defrag It takes all those file fragmented in multiple locations and basically puts the files together. So when loading a file the OS doesn't have to look it multiple places so the file will load faster.

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You Left Off One Choice in the Poll
by Hforman / May 20, 2011 5:44 PM PDT

Many third party (even FREE ones) will defragment in the background so you left off the choice of "continuously". I have a free one that will even defrag system files for you if you want. I don't check fragmentation that often.

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Defrag? - Practically never!
by Gerdd / May 20, 2011 7:13 PM PDT

Why?

It hardly ever seems necessary - see below - and on today's huge drives it could take forever.

"Taking forever" is a problem for me in a number of ways. It tends to eat up resources like crazy, so that you don't have the full use of your machine for a long time. Plus, I just don't trust the process to be 100% tested when it comes to surviving, say, a power-related failure - of which we still have too many around here in the lightning-strike zone of the highveld. There is, of course, an alternative. And it is pretty much guaranteed to be safe. So read on.

Why would I need to defrag? Files comprising more than one cluster may end up spread across the disk, necessitating long seek movements when reading the whole file. The extent to which this happens is a function of your specific usage profile and of the free space management algorithms of your operating system. Any file that fits completely in one cluster doesn't qualify for the role of troublemaker. And if you use NTFS any sufficently small files will even live inside the directory, so you don't even incur a seek operation moving from the directory to the file.

So, if I have lots of smallish files there is no fragmentation to start with. For the rest - the larger files - things depend very much on how often files are created and deleted. If the vast majority of your files stays around they don't free up space that could lead to fragmentation - so there is no need to defragment the disk.

Another aspect is that the improved speed of the disk subsystem and the large amounts of memory your OS could reserve for caching mean that the performance degradation due to disk fragmentation is much less noticeable today than it used to be. Also remember that - owing to the high recording density - there is so much more data under a single head position (a "cylinder") nowadays, so that the time-consuming seeks don't have to happen all that often. And a "full end-to-end seek" today covers something like two terabytes rather than five megabytes on some of the earliest hard drives; the physical distance traveled is a bit shorter, too, since the 5MB drive was of the 5.25" form factor whereas the 2TB drive has a 3.5" housing.

And finally, with getting new and bigger drives all the time nowadays, we tend to copy files from the old drive to the new drive a lot. The data on the new drive is not fragmented. So here is a way to defragment your data non-destructively. It also makes a good deal of sense at today's prices to copy data to external hard drives for backup. Then, if you really feel you would rather work with the defragmented data, just swap out the original drive for the backup drive, and voila!

So, as a result of all this, I don't really get around to using the defragmentation utility any more - which is just as well, because I could see a well-filled 2TB drive being seriously rattled by the process ...

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Partitions
by dangnad1 / May 21, 2011 5:17 AM PDT

My earlier reply left out one very vital thing, partitions. It is utter folly to use a 2TB or even a 500MB drive as one big C: partition. If you calculate percent fragmented on a 2TB partition you will never see even 1% fragmentation.
One should always partition their hard drive with the C: partition about twice the size required to hold the Windows OS (about 60mb for Win7, 40mb for WinVista). That's the partition you need to defragment. Windows and other programs are very busy creating and deleting log files and the C: partition gets very messy in a short time.
You then create other partitions for your own files. For example I have an E: partition of 120mb for data files, an F: partition of 120mb for "multimedia", an H: partition for music of 60mb, and so on. These data partitions rarely need defragmenting. I check them once in awhile especially E: if I'm creating and deleting Office files, etc. BTW you need to change all your default data file location from C: to your data partition e.g. Office, browsers, mail programs.
To sum up, you need to defragment only your OS partition regularly

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Megabytes, Gigabytes, what's the difference
by dangnad1 / May 23, 2011 3:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Partitions

Reply to my own reply. Sorry about the nomenclature above. Everything above with "mb" should be "gb". I'm still living in the DOS world.

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Defrag
by dayman / May 20, 2011 8:28 PM PDT

Defragmentation was originally created because Microsoft couldn't be bothered, or wasn't cabable, of creating
an OS that used disk space in a sensible manner! So disks became fragmented. This scenario has not been
corrected to this day. Windows 7 still doesn't use disk space in an ordered manner.
However defragging modern drives is a waste of CPU resources!
Consider: The OS doesn't see the true geometry of the drive anymore! Disks are intelligent, and what the OS sees
CCHHSS, is not the true geometry of the disk, generally the disk has less heads and more cylinders than the OS sees.
So if you defrag from the OS, the disk may not be actually defragged at all!!
Secondly, Systems are in general much speedier than in days of yore, as are disk drives.
So defragmentation doesn't affect the speed of operation of the computer anything like it did years ago.
So IMHO, defragging is more or less redundant.

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(NT) Defragmentation
by dangnad1 / May 21, 2011 5:32 AM PDT
In reply to: Defrag
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Sensible Utilization
by FiOS-Dave / May 22, 2011 6:57 AM PDT
In reply to: Defragmentation

This whole discussion is becoming a moot point!
As solid state drives become cheaper and higher capacity, there will be no need for defragging, since there will be no such thing as fragmentation!
Each location on a SSD is reached as quickly as any other. Any scheme that now places most recently used files where they will be more quickly accessed, will no longer be needed.
Of course, SSDs will bring with them, there own set of problems!

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not for a while..
by sk528 / May 22, 2011 8:21 AM PDT
In reply to: Sensible Utilization

SSD's inconsistent quality, still high pricing and fairly high premature failure rate will need more time to mature. I don't think the classic hdd will disappear in the next five years .. and, btw, SSD has its own form of "defragmentation" called garbage collection (Trim).

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Well I purchased not the newest Kingston
by orlbuckeye / May 25, 2011 1:00 AM PDT
In reply to: Sensible Utilization

SSD drive for almost 1.00 per gig. I paid 139 for a 128 gb SSD with a Cloning kit. It came with an external case with USB and Acronis cloning software. It takes 20-25 seconds to boot on my machine and my windows perfomance went from 5.9 to 6.9 with the HD bringing the score down. Because SSD read times are considerably faster then writes when I deleted my page file the windows score wnet form 6.7 to 6.9. Now if i would have went with one of the faster SSD the score would have been closer to 7.5.

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Microsoft didn't steal DOS.
by orlbuckeye / May 25, 2011 12:53 AM PDT
In reply to: Defragmentation

They purchased it. As Apple didn't steal the GUI interface. It was given to them eventhough the developers didn't want to.

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DOS?
by msgale / September 3, 2011 11:33 AM PDT
In reply to: Defragmentation

IBM DOS had absolutely nothing to do with DOS of the PC. It, IBM DOS, was originally design for the smaller 360 line of computers. One important difference was that the 360 architecture has a user/executive state, whereas the 8088 processor did not. It could also multi-task. As far as I have been able to discern DEC never had an OS called DOS. MS DOS was derived from 86-DOS marketed by Seattle Computer Products. DR DOS was developed by Digital Research and was derived from CP/M.

Almost every system requires defragmentation. Diskeeper developed by Diskeeper Corporation (formerly Executive Software) was originally targeted to DEC's VAX system. On IBM mainframes partitioned data sets have to be reorganized periodically, and on CDC systems indirect files had to be reloaded to recover un-addressable space. Microsoft's goal was to build a file system that would minimize wasted space, what exactly what the FAT file system did on smaller disks. Now with massive disks we should be using NTFS not FAT32.

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Why defragmentation is required...
by Mohan S Negi / July 1, 2011 1:38 PM PDT
In reply to: Defrag

Dear Dayman,

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Rarely....but
by bob b / May 20, 2011 11:31 PM PDT

For the folks using the superfetch service you might want to look into how these two are tied together.

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