Everything You Wanted To Know About Disk Defragmenting But Were Afraid To Ask

Disk Defragmenter is a built-in utility for Windows. When you defragment a disk, it rearranges data scattered throughout the drive and puts it in a contiguous order near the front. Because your hard drive has moving parts, organizing files in this manner reduces the read / write times of the drive and speeds up boot times and the time it takes to access files on your computer.

If you’re lucky enough to have a Solid State Drive (SSD), you do not need to worry about disk defragmenting, as data can be accessed instantly on these drives containing no moving parts.

How Often Should Disk Defragmenter Be Run

While defragging a disk is very important, you want to avoid running it too often, as this could eventually damage the drive. There is no set rule for how often Disk Defragmenter should be run. In general, you’ll determine this by how much you use the computer. Are you using large blocks of data at a time–video editing, adding and removing a lot of programs? If so, you will defragment more than the average person. Do you only perform basic word processing and check email? If so, then you’ll need to defrag less often. Unless you are a power user, run Disk Defragmenter once a month to keep your files and drive organized for optimum performance.

Schedule Disk Defragmenter

It’s best to schedule Disk Defragmenter, as the process can take a few hours to complete depending on the size of your disk. While you can still use the drive while running the utility, it’s better if you do not. Therefore, we recommend running Disk Defragmenter on a schedule. To do this in Windows 7, launch the utility by going to Start>All Programs>Accessories, System Tools and then clicking Disk Defragmenter.

Schedule Disk Defragmenter

In the schedule section, click Configure Schedule.

Schedule Disk Defragmenter to run monthly

In this example, we are going to change the frequency to Monthly, where it will run on the first day of the month beginning at 1:00 AM. Once you select the disk you want to defragment (Usually the C: drive) click OK to set the schedule.

Disk Defragmenter Errors

You receive an error code DEFRAG005 or DEFRAG006 when attempting to run Disk Defragmenter – This means Disk Defragmenter is unable to write to or read a sector. If you receive any of the those errors, backup important data to an external drive, and then run the Error Checking utility for the hard drive. To run Error Checking, click the Start button, and then click Computer. Next, right-click the C drive and select Properties.

Under the Tools tab in the Error-Checking section, click the Check Now button. Select both the options to “Automatically fix file system errors” and “Scan for and attempt recovery for bad sectors.” The computer will want to reboot to run this scan, which could take a while. When the process is finished, try running Disk Defragmenter again.

Disk Defragmenter Q and A

  • Will Disk Defragmenter really help with performance: Yes
  • How often do I need to run Disk Defragmenter: Monthly
  • Do I need to defrag a Solid State Drive: No
  • Can I use the computer when defragging: Yes
  • Can defragging too much reduce the lifespan of my drive: Yes
  • Do I have to use the built-in Windows defrag utility: No

Defragmenting Conclusion

As you can see, running Disk Defragmenter is a vital part of normal Windows maintenance. It’s best to schedule the task for a time when you will not be using the computer, and if you have problems, run the error-checking tool and make sure you have at least twenty percent of the drive space free in order for Windows to move files around. As a result, your computer will run cooler, faster and more efficient.