Fragmentation is the process to write data of hard drives or memory modules on separate locations on the drive. These fragmented pieces of data are individually called as fragments.
What Is Fragmentation & Defragmentation?
Defragmentation is the process of removing the distances and making them close, it’s un-fragmenting generally. With this process fragmented files comes closer to each other which decreases the access time and speeds up the system. Let’s discuss more about fragmentation and defragmentation process.
What are File Fragments?
Fragments are data pieces located on different places of hard drive. It sounds strange but it is what is it is.
For instance, you create a new Microsoft Excel file, that file exists on your desktop or your document folder. You can perform different operations on it, edit, remove, insert or anything you want. You think that this all happening in one place, but in reality, this is happening on different locations on hard drive.
Though you are working in a single file and saving all your data that belongs to that file, but in reality the data is getting stored on different places on hard drive. When yu open the file, hard drive pulls everything quickly and connects all the pieces showing them as a whole to you.
The only problem with Fragmentation is that the existence of data on different locations is time consuming which impacts the performance of the drive as well as the system.
Fragmentation can be understood by the example of a card game. The card game requires an entire deck of cards. Before playing the game you have to find the deck first. If the cards are spread across the room and collecting them would take time compared if they are nicely organized on the table.
The separated form of deck of cards is called fragmentations which represents the fragmented data on a hard drive, the organized deck of card represents defragmentation which allows you to access data from a particular location.
Is Fragmentation Time consuming?
In the fragmentation there is a distance between the different pieces of a file. Typically, the culprit behind this process is the file system as it reserves too much space for a file when it’s created, and left open areas around it.
The files deleted already are the reason for file system fragments data when written. Upon removal, the space get free for new files to save. If that open space is smaller for a new file you are creating that will be unused and will be lying freely. But file system saves a part of file there, and remaining somewhere else making distance between parts of a file.
This is where hard drive takes time to access different pieces of same file from different locations to collect them for you. This method had been used normally. The other way for the file system is to constantly reshuffle all existing data on the hard disk so any time a file is changed, which involves data writing process to crawl, slowing down everything along with it.
Therefore, fragmentation is the evil behind slowing down your computer.
Defragmentation is stated earlier is the process that puts the files closes together allowsing the hard drive to access them faster.
Fragmentation increases slowdown, sometimes computer sluggishness and excessive fragmentation is the reason of slowness which hard drive takes time to access data from different physical places on the drive.
De-fragmentation is process of reversing fragmentation and is a smart computer maintenance task which is also called as defragging.
You cannot do it manually, there’s a lot of rearrangement involved and fragmentation isn’t just a disorganized collection of files and folders.
You need a dedicated defragging tool like Disk Defragmenter that works best on Windows Operating System. Though you have options to use any third-party tools like defraggler but going with a Microsoft built-in tool would be the best choice.
Defragging is easy to use and all other tools share the similar interface. You only have to select the drive you want to defrag and click on the defragment button. Depending upon the size of the drive it might take few moments depending upon the level of fragmentation. But usually, it can take few hours to fully defrag.
Defragging solid state hard drive
SSDs are totally different from HDDs as there are no moving parts in them and for storing data they use flash memory like used in flash drives and digital cameras.
It usually doesn’t takes much time to access data due to having no moving parts in it or different physical locations like HDDs. So typically there are not parts to defragment because all the parts of a file are located at the same place.
But due to the file system, SSDs does suffer from the fragmentation but it barely puts an impact on the performance.
Another reason to not to defrag the SSDs is that doing this would cause them to fail quickly than they would otherwise.
Let me explain…
SSDs allows finite number of writes. Each time defrag is run files are moved from one location to other, each time writing the file to a new location. This process involves lot of writing and with SSDs the more wear and tear means earlier death of it’s cells.
That said, SSDs doesn’t need to defragged and majority of tools won’t allows to defrag SSD due to that fact stated already. But don’t hesitate to defrag your spinning hard drives.
Defragmenting has nothing to do with the reference of the file, but it’s physical location. For instance, Microsoft Excel file residing on your desktop won’t be going anywhere else the physical locations of data will be changed which you never see.
There are no hard and fast rules to defrag your hard drives. It’s your choice depending on your computer usage, size of drive and number of files you are dealing with. While on the other hand, the defrag process is completely safe and it’s up to your either get a paid tool of get the job done with the free one.