Defragmenting the hard drives of your computer is important on PC systems where programs are installed and uninstalled frequently, or where other read and write operations of files are handled regularly. This can be for instance the case on a drive that is used to save P2P files.
In a perfect world, files would be written contiguously on the hard drive. In the world of Windows they are not, at least not all of the time. Think of the hard drive as a list of blocks that you can fill with data. When the hard drive is new, files can be written in a single block on the drive, but once files get deleted regularly, blocks of different sizes for write operations appear. It then happens that a block is not large enough to contain a file that needs to be written on the hard drive. That's when the contents of the file are split among multiple blocks, and that is what is called fragmentation.
Defragmentation resolves those issues by merging files together again on the hard drive so that the hard drive does not need to jump around to load the file.
I'm lazy. I do not want to right-click the drive, select Properties, change to the Tools tab and click on Defragment Now. Fortunately for users like me there is a workaround that adds the option to defragment your hard drive to the right-click menu of all connected hard drives and partitions.
To make this change, all that is needed is to add a single key to the Windows registry. Once done, the new option appears whenever you right-click a drive in Windows Explorer.
Once done close the registry and right-click a drive to see if the new option defrag appears. If it does test it with a left-click on the option. A new window should appear on the screen and the defragmentation of the drive should start automatically.
Update: Defragmentation is automatically scheduled on Windows 7 and newer versions of the Windows operating system so that you do not need to run manual runs anymore.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.