The disk defrag utility is designed to maximize
the speed of reading and writing data to the hard drive. Also,
it will use disk space more efficiently. This is done by taking files
fragmented (broken up into smaller pieces) and putting them back
together as a single contiguous unit.
Initially when you start with a blank hard drive,
data is written sequentially, one record at a time with each record
following the previous one. So that the data is in a nice orderly
fashion (not fragmented). Over time as records are deleted there are
holes left in the file. These holes or deleted areas of the disk are
added to the free space list. In order to use disk space more
efficiently this free space is available for other files to write to.
When files are updated they may not fit in the
previous area of the disk. They are then broken in to
multiple pieces, the first being returned to the original
area, the rest being placed into areas specified by the free space list.
Over time data is no longer in a nice orderly
pattern, but in something that looks like a checker board. Every time
you read data it takes considerably more time to access it; and when
you write data, the free space list has you jumping all over the hard
drive. In order to speed up the hard drive and recapture the wasted
disk space you must run the defragmentation utility.
Disk defrag takes each fragmented file and copies
it to a contiguous area of the hard drive. It repeats this process
all of the fragmented files are defragmented. The end result is that
the hard drive runs faster and more free space is available. It is
recommended that defrag be run weekly for the average user and more
frequently for the heavy user.
There are defragging utilities available on
Windows, Apple OS X, and Linux. Also, you can purchase defrag software
from your online computer retailer, and free defrag software is
available over the
Internet. The newer defrag software can run in the background while you
are using the computer, and defrag also has the ability to be
scheduled to run automatically during the off hours.
Some of the files on the hard drive are open (in
use) and can not be moved when you are running defrag. This is when you
want to consider using a boot defrag. This must be run manually. Once
activated, this special version of defrag will run the next time you
boot up the computer before anything else starts. Thereby performing a
more complete version of defrag.
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