Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tip #2: Defragging, When and Why

Defragging, What is it?

To better answer this question, lets introduce you to why you need to defrag.

Your data is stored on a device called a hard drive. Hard drives work by storing data in magnetic poles, but this data is stored on platters, in the shape of disks. The data is stored in a line, going in a circle. Whenever you modify space on the hard drive, there is a possibility that the data that is normally stored in a line will get fragmented, and scattered. This causes the hard drive to have to skip to the different fragmented parts of the program.

As a result of this, defragmentation tools were created. These programs find programs, data, documents and the such, and see if they are 'contiguous' (continuous, or in this case, in a line). If not, the tool makes them in a line, and this decreases the loading time of your various data.

When should I defrag my computer?

Keep in mind, that the hard drive is the slowest part of the computer. So, defragging used to be important. Now a days, you can read a hard drive so fast, that defragmentation doesn't really matter.

So, is there a reason to defragment a hard drive, given that it can be read fast enough that is doesn't matter? Yes. You see, a larger hard drive with a lot of data will take some time to read even for the fastest of computers.

How large is my hard drive?

You can figure out how large your hard drive is in a few steps.

1. Click on the start menu in the bottom left corner (unless you have in another place on the screen)
2. Click on the "My Computer" or "Computer" option. (Unless you have My Computer on your desktop, if so, double click that)
3. Your main hard drive should be labeled C:, in XP, right click on it and choose properties. In Vista and 7, there should be a bar graph under the C: label.
4. In XP, there will be a bar graph at the bottom of the box that just popped up. The size of your hard drive is right above that.

Chances are you have a small hard drive, 80 gigabytes or so, in which case defragmenting your hard drive is neccessary, maybe do it once every month or so. If you have something 160 gigabytes to 250 gigabytes, I would defragment it once every two or so weeks, or if you do some heavy installing or modifying your files, defragment it after you're done. Anything larger than 250 gigabytes, I would defragment it once a week.

Another factor would be how much of your hard drive is full. The more your hard drive has, the more is has to go through. As a rule of thumb, take the percentage remaining and multiply it by the number of days suggested (50% full, 500 GB hard drive, defrag every 3.5 days).

What should I use?

I don't recommend the Micro$oft defragmenter. I recommend one of two:

Auslogic's Disk Defragone of the better disk defrags out. Takes a while, but it does it thoroughly, and even tells you how much better it estimates!

Smart Defrag, if you leave your computer on, but don't use it much, you might like this program. It runs in the background until it sees that you haven't touched the computer in a while. Then, after it detects that is hasn't been used in a while, it begins to defrag your computer.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, maybe I should be defragging my computer more.