Tech Academy: Defragmentation

Welcome to Spring Cleaning month on the Digity blog! Over the next few weeks, we’ll spend time exploring how to give your small business (and all of its technology) a good cleaning from top to bottom. To get us started, today’s Tech Academy takes a look at defragmentation.

What is defragmentation?

Defragmentation is a maintenance activity concerned with cleaning up your hard drive.

Why do I need to defrag my computer?

Most hard drives are made up of spinning platters. The data that is stored on your hard drive (files, programs, etc.) is written in “blocks” of information that are stored across the platters. While the data blocks are stored in order, they can occasionally be split apart. This process (called fragmentation), leaves the blocks scattered around the platter. When this happens, anytime you ask for a certain file or program, your hard drive has to look in multiple places. This extra searching time tends to slow down your computer. To fix the problem, you need to defrag your computer. NOTE: If you have an SSD hard drive, then you don’t have any spinning platters. This means that you should never defrag your computer.

What happens when you defrag your hard drive?

Defragmentation is simply the process of putting your blocks of data back into order. During a defrag, your platters are scanned and blocks are moved around until they are all in their proper place. This allows your computer to run at its optimal speed.

How often should I defrag my computer?

It is recommended that you defrag your computer when your defragmentation levels reach 10%. For a computer that is heavily used (such as for an 8 hour work day), this means that you should be defragging about once every 2 weeks. Many modern operating systems (such as Windows 7, Windows 8, and Mac OSX) have automatic defragmentation programs that are run at regular intervals.

What is Digity’s Spring Cleaning Defragmentation Tip?

Digity recommends checking your defragmentation schedule (go to Start→Control Panel→System and Security and then click Defragment Your Hard Drive). Check to see when your hard drive was last scanned, when the next defragmentation is going to happen, and what your current defragmentation levels are. If your computers tend to run slow, and you are concerned that your schedule is not correct talk to your Digity Tech Advisor. He can let you know how often the different computers in your small business should be defragmented.