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How long is too long for defragmenting?

by jomcan / April 11, 2011 9:48 AM PDT

Hi, I got such wonderful help with a pic with problems I came back to ask about this. I hap a Dell Laptop Inspiron 1525 running Vista. I use AVG free Anti-virus which runs weekly. I thought it was defraging also so I don't even know when I did it myself last. But I mean overnight and still going? And there is no way to see the progress, just the spinning wheel that says it is doing something. How long can it actually take to do and should I just leave the computer on and leave it running? I left it on like I said overnight, stopped it and started it again and it's been going all day! Any suggestions or opinions? Thanks so much in advance to anyone who responds. Joanne

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Be aware that
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 11, 2011 10:34 AM PDT

Sometimes we find that machines are fragmenting as we run the defragmenter. For example your antivirus or spyware choice could be writting to a file about disk activity which triggers the defragmenter to start over.

Yes, a machine that was never defragged might take a few days but be sure your choice of what else is running is not hindering the progress.

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Any amount of time is too long
by Jimmy Greystone / April 11, 2011 10:36 AM PDT

Any amount of time is too long, because defragmenting makes little to no sense to perform today. The benefit of defragmenting has essentially been eliminated by improvements in HDDs and OS design, at least for probably 99.999999999999999% of computer users (and you'd know it if you were one of the exceptions), but it's one of those bits of outdated info that some people will cling to as if their life depended on it. Just like their pearls of wisdom about memory on laptop batteries that stopped having any real relevance 15-20 years ago. You STILL will occasionally run into people who will swear by this information.

That being said, overnight is excessive, but there are a large number of things that could cause this. So long as the computer appears to be running well otherwise, I'd just ignore it. For every compelling argument for defragmenting, there's at least one equally compelling argument against. Best case scenario, it's a wash, and so in cases such as that, I'd say the fact that you have to actively take some kind of action to defragment means not defragmenting wins by virtue of being less overall effort.

Now if you have OTHER problems, then this may just be one more symptom, but I don't see you complaining of any other issues in this post, so I say just ignore it and forget about defragmenting.

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Freezing also
by jomcan / April 11, 2011 11:20 AM PDT

I am having other issues that is why I thought that if I defrag it might help. I like having about 6 pages open at a time and my computer keeps freezing on me. Sometimes its when I am actively using the computer and sometimes it's if it is after leaving it on but not using it. My task manager button won't even come up which I searched about and saw that a lot of Vista users have that problem. So I have to power down and start back up. Sometimes it asks me to check, I think it says, the integrity of a disk or something like that. It never tells me anything is wrong though.

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Defrag is not a repair tool for that issue.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 11, 2011 11:43 AM PDT
In reply to: Freezing also

It's a shame you didn't lead off with that.


Please stop using defrag until you figure out the freeze issue.

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by jomcan / April 12, 2011 8:43 AM PDT

No it is not freezing while defraging, just doesn't seem to stop. Let it go overnight like I said and still going so I cancelled it. It is freezing while I have pages open and am working on one of them. Sometimes it freezes if I just leave it running and come back to it to use something. And like I said my task bar no longer shows up so I have to shut it down. Sometimes when I re-boot it will say it is recommended that I check the disks for constancy. Any ideas as to what I should do. I thought maybe if I defrag it may help stop the freezing but how long should I let the defrag run? The little circle is still running like it is working on defraging but I canceled due to how long it had run. Should I just let it go for all day and all night if it runs the defrag that long?

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At least you were warned.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 12, 2011 8:57 AM PDT
In reply to: freezing

I'm unsure how to impress on you that defragging a machine with a history of freezing is a very bad idea. Also, it is not a cure for any machine ills.

At least someone told you.

Next up? Look at the comments about what's running and about defrag in safe mode.

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Much faster
by harveymoskat / April 13, 2011 8:10 AM PDT

That is way way too long. That is also one of the issues with the in-built defragger. You might want to try a much more advanced, fully automatic defragger like diskeeper. It's much much faster and runs in the backround under low free space. I think you can download a free trial from their website.

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Freezing and How long is too long for defragmenting?
by Bill_R_TechSpec / April 15, 2011 6:56 AM PDT

Hi Jomcan,

It looks like you've gotten a lot of opinion about defrag,etc.

While I agree that it is preferable to fix the freezing issue first, the assertion that defrag is obsolete is not accurate (even Miscrosoft recommends defrag, which is exactly why they include and keep updating the built-in defrag utility since Windows 98 -- even in Win 7 , so there really should not be any question about whether or not it is needed.....)

As for how long it should take to de-frag ,etc. here is a rundown of reasons why the defrag may not be working properly (and even why it may be freezing up):

0. There is malware on the system. Solution: Run an AV check and also a spyware check.

00. The disk is heavily fragmented. Solution: Run a defrag (it may take a LONG time if it's never been done before (I've seen some reports of 3-4 days, but that's probably very unusual. If the defrag won't run or takes longer than 1-2 days, see below for possible reasons).

1. The disk is too full (you need at least 15% free space, sometimes 20%). Solution: Delete unneeded files and programs till you have more than 20% free space.

2. The disk is damaged and needs to be repaired (possibly your "Disk Integrity" message). Solution: Open "My Computer" and right click on the drive you want to check. Select "Properties" and click on the "Tools" tab. Select "Check now" to check the disk for errors. Select both options and click start (it may take a while and the PC may re-start so it can do the check at boot time).

3. Disk Defragmenter may be corrupted, needing a correction. Solution: Open System Restore and restore to a point before you started having problems with the PC.

4. Disk Defragmenter may no longer be on the system or is so corrupted that it needs a re-install. Solution:

a. Open the "Start" menu.
b. Type "%Windir%\Inf" in the "Search" box and press "Enter".
c. In the window that opens, find the file named "dfrg.inf".
d. Right-click on "dfrg.inf" and "Install." Then attempt the defrag again.

5. There are other programs running that interrupt the built-in defragmenter. Solution: Close all running programs (A/V, Spyware, etc.). If you suspect there may be some programs running in the background, use Ctrl+Alt+Delete and select "Start Task Manager" Under the "Applications" tab you will find a list of all running applications -- you can close these by selecting "End Task."

6. If still no luck, try disabling the screen saver when running Disk Defrag (you should pretty much leave the system alone when running the built-in defrag utility).

7. If still no go, try running the defragmenter in Safe Mode. If it runs, something is interfering with it and tracking the interference down may not be easy.

You should consider downloading a free trial of a commercial defrag tool.

Personally I use Diskeeper; it is more robust and it works in the background so you can use your PC. The latest edition also prevents fragmentation.

You can get a free trial at:

Bill R TechSpec

PS: If these do not resolve yur issue, let me know here and i can give you some more drastic measures. My guess is that step 3 will solve everything, but if not and you do all 7 steps and still nothing there are more steps to consider. Let me know....

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