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To defrag, or not to defrag, that is the question.

By Maurice ยท 37 replies
Aug 31, 2003
  1. Defragging;- I get conflicting opinions about this, some say that you should/must do it on a regular basis, then you get the extreme;- people that say that they never defrag. My hard drive is always about 25% full [25% used, if that's the correct terminology] I did do it once on a "friend's" advice, & soon after it had to go into a workshop; freezing often, oversized, thus unusable icons [overflowing the screen] the only thing that could be done, I was told, was to re-load Windows & as I hadn't the Windows Professional disc, [another "helpful" friend loaded THAT for me] Windows Home, my original system, was re-loaded, & things went back to normal, or as near normal as my PC ever gets.
    So, to sum up,what's the general consensus on de-fragging? & did the above system change possibly cause mayhem when I did de-frag?
    I am now nervous about doing it, although I am told that it "will speed everything up" in view of my 25% used, would that be true in my case?
  2. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,977   +15

    I dont see how defragging could be bad, but my HD is using 28GBs out of 30, and I never defrag ;) Too lazy :p

    I dont see why not to anyways.
  3. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Posts: 863

    Defraging's purpose is to increase computer performance by placing and re-arranging your files in proper order for better access.

    I don't see how defraging is bad, I've been lazy with it, but before, I used to do it once a week. The more often you do it, the less time you spend doing it after a long time.

    Some experts think that you shouldn't defrag unless you have to... I challenge that idea myself but it's just you.
  4. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    Only defrag every couple of months, or after installing new software. Defragging is necessary every now and then, but can lead to problems if files get damaged during the defrag process.

    Data errors do happen every once in a while, and if it happens to vital files you could end up with problems that are very difficult to diagnose (e.g. damaged dll files).

    Defrag when required, but don't overdo it, as each time you risk data corruption, even though that's rare. Data corruption can/does happen when moving gigabytes of data around, and it really is only a matter of time before it happens to you.

    Defrag programs these days don't seem to verify files after they are written, and so cannot guarantee that your files will not be damaged during the defrag process, unlikely though this may be.
  5. filthy_mcnasty

    filthy_mcnasty TS Rookie Posts: 78

    i've never had a problem with defragging.

    on older OSes (win9x) i made a point of defragging almost weekly but newer ones (winxp) do a lot better job with the file system than before so it's not as necessary (monthly). that said, if you install/uninstall/delete things that are significant in size defragging then wouldn't be a bad idea. at any rate it certainly wont hurt anything (unless some higher power hates you and wants to make this hatred apparent through your computer) so defragging isn't bad.
  6. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    Defragging is a required action that you must take. The frequency at which you do it, depends on how much you use your computer an how.

    If you move files around frequently then you need to also defrag frequently. If not then you don't have to do it as much.

    You should run defrag about once a week and see how fragged your files actually are. Anything above around 15-20% then you need to defrag. By checking this often you can begin to tell how often you will need to actually defrag your files and from that information, you can create a schedule so that you can keep your hard drive under 15-20% fragmentation.

    I've set a schedule in Task Scheduler to defrag one partition per day, once a week. Anything more than once a week is usually overkill unless your running a busy server.

    Also, if you have a large hard drive you might want to create partitions to confine fragmentation strategically.

    For example, my setup is as follows:

    C:\ Windows XP & Program Files
    D:\ Games
    E:\ Web Design & Graphics
    F:\ Misceallaneous files, downloads, etc

    then theres G: for my DVDROM and H: for my CDROM.

    I have created batch files (.bat) for each hard drive partition. In each batch file it contains a line such as "Defrag C:\". In Task Scheduler I have setup daily tasks for each partition to run the correct batch file. These tasks run at around 5am.

    Example batch file: (defragC.bat)

    defrag.exe C:\ -F

    ..a defrag C:\ should suffice.
  7. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    It's worthwhile, but only in moderation. Doing it too much is usually a waste of time because the difference between 94% fragmentation and a perfectly defragmented disk is neglegable. :)
  8. StormBringer

    StormBringer TS Rookie Posts: 2,244

    Rick, I think you mean 6% fragmentation.

    Also, defragging every day or even every week is not only a waste of time, it puts unnecessary stress on the HDD.

    I suggest doing it about once every two months unless you notice the machine starting to become sluggish before then. I have partitions that need a good defrag around once a month because they have a lot of activity(moving, adding, deleting) Others can go much longer, my OS partition gets one about every three months.
  9. fabita

    fabita TS Rookie

    It depends on what you are using to defrag with. If you are using the standard windows defrag tool, then doing so once a month is sufficient although IMHO windows defragger does a poor job.

    If you can afford it a wise investment would be to get execurtive software's diskeeper. In 2K and XP it replaces the windows defragger in the MMC and you set it to run what they call smart defrag, or screen saver defrag. Smart defrag will run a few times a day on each hard drive until it learns how often its necessary, after a few days to a week it settles out at about once a day. Screen saver defrag only runs when your screen saver is active. But even in smart scheduling it uses little system resources while running and you will hardly notice it.

    It's amazing how much difference there is between windows defrag and diskeeper. It's about 2-4X faster then windows defrag and does a much better job. I highly recommend it. Been using for 4 years now on my servers workstattions and desktops with not one issue........And you never have to worry about if you need to defrag as its done automatically.
  10. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Posts: 863

    I use Norton SystemWork's defrager (Speed Disk), what do you guys use?
  11. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    Defrag system drives well, and then only do so again if you have made software changes that altered over about 100MB or so of stuff.

    On data partitions, downloading and deleting mp3s, videos, etc regularly will fragment a drive like this badly. So make these partitions LARGE and defrag them regularly.

    Create a seperate swap partition for the swap file, it will never get fragmented on a partition with no other files!

    Do an overall defrag of all volumes about 1-2 months, maybe longer if you keep up the steps I have mentioned.
  12. Maurice

    Maurice Banned Topic Starter Posts: 646

    Thanks to all of you who tried to help with the defragging problem, & it seems that all of your views on this are so diverse, it's a case of eenie-meenie miney-mo, I shall leave mine for a while, as I don't do much moving of files, etc., as witness my usage of the HDD, it hasn't varied much from the 25% level in a year, a year being the time I've had the laptop from new.
    A note for you TS bosses here, had a quick [& I mean quick] peep at "Acer" purporting to do roughly the same job as TS, .......absolutely hopeless, if you want a good laugh, have a look!
  13. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,686   +350

    Well for my laptop for work, with it being a slow disk in it (4200rpm) I find that it being nicely unfragmented does show quite a decent speed increase. I often find that after many databases being worked on on the local machine and downloads and updates etc... etc.. my laptop will start chugging along (1.7Ghz P4-M, 512MB PC2100, 30Gb hard disk, GF4Go 32mb). Defrag usually speeds it up and bit, and for me this is noticable. Saying that I consistently put 200-400mb database files on my pc then when finished working with them delete them. So this, for me is a necessary procedure ;)
  14. vassil3427

    vassil3427 TS Rookie Posts: 640

    I defrag my computer and I degfrag often. I have a 100GB WD SE HDD. And I always see a boost in performance after defragmenting...I've NEVER had a problem with defragging and always recommend everyone I know to do it....:grinthumb my opinon....
  15. StormBringer

    StormBringer TS Rookie Posts: 2,244

  16. poertner_1274

    poertner_1274 secroF laicepS topShceT Posts: 4,172

    I defragged a few days ago, first time in probably 7 months, and after many downloads, extractions, and deletions, to my surprise I wasn't that fragmented. But I defragged anyway, and haven't noticed all that much better performance.
  17. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    But at the same time, you need to be aware of fragmentation as a possible performance issue, certainly.

    The hard drive is the slowest link in the link - where everything slows down, and nanoseconds become milleseconds, etc. A nice fast, well defragged HDD will make a difference, I swear.
  18. poertner_1274

    poertner_1274 secroF laicepS topShceT Posts: 4,172

    I am sure it will, I have read quite a bit about it. I think I just didn't notice a difference because I wasn't looking for one.

    I might try to keep an eye out next time and see.
  19. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    I think I am going to change my task schedule to defrag about once every two weeks and see how that goes. I set this current schedule a few weeks ago to see how it goes. When defrag starts, usually files are only about 1-5% fragmented.

    Back when I was running DOS on a 33mhz 386sx I never once ran defrag for at least a few years. I didn't know there was such a thing. Now that I do, I wish I had because it would have made my long nights playing DOOM against friends in the area much more enjoyable ;-).
  20. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Posts: 942

    I never defrag. Ever.

    And all my partitions are at less then 1%

    It's more planning - If you plan smart, you won't have to perform that sort of maintenance.
  21. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    That's because you've got 26 computers on which you spend your time. By the time you do anything useful on just one of those 12 months have past. Give yourself a few years between defrags. :p
  22. StormBringer

    StormBringer TS Rookie Posts: 2,244

    I'd like to see a rundown of the partitioning scheme that allows this. I think I have a pretty efficient setup and I still have a couple of partitions that need regular partitioning. the partition used for CD burning and scratch disks gets pretty fragged after a month or so, as well as my downloads partition(which I know I could actually eliminate by sorting files when I dl them, but this is just the way I do things)
  23. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Posts: 942

    On my primary machines, Celia, Phaedra, and Soulbox (click the "my darlings" link in my sig) I follow pretty much the same partitioning scheme. Here is what I have on Celia, which is the box I use for all net-related activities, downloading and video editing, et cetera(note: This is for XP only, machines that multiboot are a different story altogether):

    note: this is what it WAS a few days ago... I've since reinstalled XP and the partitions are slightly different although follow the same pattern

    Mount Size Purpose
    C: 2GB XP install, locked hibernation file
    D: 5GB Windows Applications Only
    E: 1GB swap
    F: 540mb Windows Temp(requires registry hack)
    G: 50MB Temporary Internet Files
    H: 18GB Movies(Finished)
    I: 10.08GB To Burn (files I want to burn to a disc)
    J: 32G Audio/Video Editing Temp (I only edit 1 file at a time)

    K: 1GB NETWORK DRIVE - Download Temp (before I put it where it belongs)

    P: 10GB NETWORK DRIVE - My Documents
    R: 1GB NETWORK DRIVE - Application Data / User Data / Desktop
    Y: 6GB NETWORK DRIVE - Program Installs / Patches
    Z: 30GB NETWORK DRIVE - mp3s
  24. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    Aha, so thats how you do it. Why defrag when you can reinstall. :p
  25. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    That wouldn't make any difference on a fragmented hard drive :p.
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