What Does a Disk Defrag Do?

Hard drive disk used in a disk defrag, what does a disk defrag do concept

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It seems like you were pulling your new computer out of the box yesterday, but the slow speeds and increasing wait times tell another story. If you’ve been looking into ways to boost your computer’s operations, you may have come across the term “disk defrag.” 

A disk defrag is one of the best ways to get an older computer to speed up, and might just do the trick in freeing up space to help your device run smoother and faster. It will also save you the time and money you might have spent buying a new computer to get the speed you need. The following quick guide will help you decide if a disk defrag might be the right move for you.

What Does a Disk Defrag Do? 

You’ve heard that a disk defrag can help your older computer speed up, but how? In the simplest of terms, the process takes your files and reorganizes them so they take up less space. This gives your computer more memory and disk space to execute new commands, which allows it to run faster. 

In technical terms, a defrag looks all over your hard drive to find scattered, related pieces of data and lines them up next to each other in a continuous line. These files end up separated because they are stored in different locations as you write, rewrite, and delete files. The only way to bring them back together is by defragging your computer.

Here’s an easy-to-understand example:

Imagine you’re packing up your home to move. You’ve bought 100 boxes, taped them up, and filled some of them. The only problem is that you have so many boxes you can barely move around your home to continue packing. 

To add to the level of difficulty, there are toys, clothing, utensils, and other items spread in each room of your home instead of where they’re supposed to be. Now, some boxes are filled to the brim with clothing and pillows, while others are practically empty, containing only a single toy or pot from the kitchen. 

There’s a knock on your door, and it’s a professional mover. He comes inside and starts looking in all the boxes and items spread through each room in the home. One by one, he reorganizes your boxes so they’re filled with items that belong together and there isn’t empty space in the boxes. He also puts all the toys in your children’s bedrooms, dishes in the kitchen, and clothes in the closets. 

After he’s done, you have 60 boxes that are filled, taped up, and waiting in the garage to move. The other 40 boxes are stacked neatly in the corner waiting for you to use. This makes it much easier for you to quickly get around your home. 

This is similar to what a disk defrag does: It’s the professional packer who organizes everything into as few boxes as necessary and places like-items in the same place. This gives you more space on your hard drive and helps your older computer run faster. 

Does a Disk Defrag Delete Files?

You’ve spent a lot of time creating the files on your computer, and many of them contain valuable information that could cause problems if you lost them. You don’t want to put them at risk, but rest assured that random deletion is not the purpose of a disk defrag. 

Computer speed, what does a disk defrag do concept

Here’s a little more information about the process:

  • When you do a disk defrag, it won’t delete any of your files.
  • The goal of a disk defrag is to restore the performance of your computer by locating all the pieces of a file spread out in different locations — clusters and inodes — and placing them in one place together so they can be read quickly.
  • This creates more space, and you don’t lose anything in the process. 

Do Macs Need to Be Defragged?

If you’re a Mac owner, you’re probably already thinking there’s no way your computer needs to be defragged. For the most part, you’re right: Mac computers utilize a different operating system than those running on Windows. Here’s a little more about how this works:

  • The Mac operating system is always defragging your files as you work on them. It’s an automatic function.
  • To defrag your Mac, you need a special program.
  • You should never ever defrag a Mac’s solid-state drive (SSD).

There are a few circumstances in which you would need to defrag your Mac, however

  • If the hard drive was filled to 90 percent or higher capacity
  • When you have hundreds of large video and audio files
  • When you can’t easily move some of your files to another storage system to free up space and restore your running speed

How Helpful Is a Disk Defrag?

How much a disk defrag helps the performance of your computer relies on a couple of factors. If you used a lot of the space on your hard drive, then a disk defrag can be very helpful as it will mean some programs run more quickly. You will also notice an improvement in the speed of your computer if it’s been a while since you last completed a disk defrag, both when running programs and in the time it takes to start your device.

Here are a few more facts:

  • Running a disk defrag can help the overall performance of your computer.
  • A disk defrag should be a part of your occasional computer tune-up and maintenance program.
  • You won’t see the same results if you’ve recently run a disk defrag on your computer as when running it after a much longer period of time. 

Sometimes after running a disk defrag, you might find you don’t even want a file anymore. The file could just be something you no longer need, or it could be something you want removed from your device to ensure it can never be retrieved — like old paperwork with your Social Security number or outdated business information. In times like these, you need a digital file shredder that can make the information unrecoverable.

Digital file deletion expert Shred Cube offers a program that does just that, permanently removing the file from your computer and shredding it so that not even a disk defrag can find the pieces to put the file back together again. This gives you more space on your device as well as prevents the personal or business information from falling into the wrong hands. Contact us now to learn more. 

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