How to Defragment Your Hard Drive

If your computer is running slower lately, it might be time to defragment your hard drive.   A computer’s hard drive has more moving parts than most of your computer.  And if you haven’t cleaned up your hard drive in a while (or ever), it can take a long time to load programs or data.  If you want a relatively quick way to speed up your computer, a defragmentation of your hard drive might be the best answer.

What is a fragmented hard drive?
A hard drive works by storing data on a spinning disk (unless you have a solid state drive). Your data is stored on the hard drive in rings, making it easier for the hard drive’s arm to read the data.  Over time, however, data can be stored in multiple rings because of updates and deletions, making it harder for your hard drive to access the needed information.  When you defragment your hard drive, you’re helping to repair the fragmented data, which makes your hard drive run faster and reduce wear and tear.

How do I defragment my hard drive?
Luckily, Windows has a hard drive defragmentation tool already installed on your computer.  Whether you have Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8, it’s a fairly easy process.  Here’s the easiest way to find it in Windows XP:

  1. Click on My Computer
  2. Right click the hard drive you wish to defragment, and click Properties.
  3. Find the Tools tab, and click Defragment Now.
  4. Click Defragment.

On Windows Vista or newer, it’s much easier.  Click on the Windows icon in the lower left.  Enter Defrag in the search box, and it will bring up the program.  Open it, and click Defragment Disk.

That’s it for Windows users.  It should be noted that a hard drive defragmentation consumes a lot of your computer’s processing power, so if possible, do it while the computer is not in use.

For Apple users, there are multiple third-party systems that can help with this process.  Apple claims that its operating system is designed to limit the need for hard drive defragmentation.  It does this by designing the system to download whole programs, instead of adding new pieces like Windows, and by using larger, unused hard drive space for new programs.  If you feel that a hard drive defragmentation is needed, a third party application should be used.

By defragmenting your computer’s hard drive, you’ll help increase your computer’s speed, eliminate unnecessary files, and help prolong the life of your hard drive.