Disk fragmentation is a common problem that is very serious. It plagues every computer at some point, yet many people fail to address the issue. Disk fragmentation effects your computer in many ways, including the speed and reliability of the computer. If you notice your computer is slower than usual, it is likely that this is the reason.
What Disk Fragmentation Is
To understand disk fragmentation, think of your hard drive like a filing cabinet where things are filed in an orderly fashion, such as alphabetically. When the filing cabinet is orderly you can easily find files. However, as you add and take away files from the cabinet it becomes disarrayed. Finding files in a filing cabinet that is not orderly takes quite a bit longer. Your hard disk works the same way. As you add programs, files and games and delete files and programs over time, the hard disk becomes fragmented and files are no longer stored contiguously. The files are still there, but it is harder for the computer to find them, so it takes longer. The more files you move, change, delete or add over time, the more fragmented the hard drive becomes.
Signs of Fragmentation
There are several signs that your disk if fragmented. The most common sign is that it slows down your computer. However, there are a few other signs that your drive is fragmented. The first thing you will notice is that it takes longer to boot up or shut down your computer. The second thing you will notice is that software takes longer to load. This is especially true of web browsers and word processing software. Finally, if your computer is really fragmented you will notice that your software crashes frequently or becomes unresponsive. As the computer tries to find files on the hard disk, resources are taken away from the software keeping it from running properly.
Another sign of disk fragmentation is difficulty in burning CDs or DVDs. The process of burning the disc requires a steady stream of data from the hard drive. This is not possible with a severely fragmented drive. When this is the case, the burning of the disc will fail and the disc will not be able to be reused.
Getting Rid of Fragmentation
The best and easiest way to get rid of disk fragmentation is to use defragmentation software, or a defragger. This will make sure there is little fragmentation and your computer will speed up tremendously. This should be done routinely to keep your computer running at its best.
The software works by arranging files contiguously, in an orderly manner. In other words, it fixes your file cabinet. The software will first scan the disk to see which files are fragmented. It will then make use of available free space on the disk to copy files and put them back together. The software then deletes the fragmented files. This process works best if you have a good deal of free space on your computer. You should have at least twenty percent of your disk as free space. Some software continuously monitors the disk for fragmentation and fixes it automatically.
Operating systems like Windows have built in defragmenting software. However, these are limited in features. There are a lot of alternatives available that are faster and offer more features. Look for ease of use, speed of defragmenting, and the ability to schedule defragmenting in your defragger.