defragIf you’ve heard of it but are not clear on exactly what it is, this is the article for you. “Disk defrag” is short for “disk defragmenter” which is a tool that helps to solve storage problems with hard disk drives.

A common issue with hard drives as they begin to fill up with information is new information cannot be stored sequentially. Instead, it needs to be stored wherever it can fit the open pockets throughout the drive. What ends up happening is that there’s a delayed loading the occurs whenever you try to upload any of the fragmented information because the arm of the hard drive has to take so many trips around the hard disk to get all the necessary information.

A disk defragmenter solves this issue by reorganizing all the files on your hard disk drive so that as many files can be stored sequentially as possible. A good defragmenter might even put all your applications near the operating system so that your apps load faster.

What does that even mean? Well keep in mind that storing information on your drive involves instructing read-write heads to travel all around the platters in your hard drive, magnetizing and demagnetizing microscopic pieces of metal depending on what binary code your personal files break down into. The read-write heads are also magnets and they are located on an arm that understands where to travel around the platters based on metadata that it stores regarding what’s where. The arm travels at a max speed across a very real physical space, so the more the metadata tells it to run all around the platters to find the necessary magnetic/binary information that makes up the picture of your grandma riding a horse that you’re trying to click on, the longer it’s going to take to process the entire picture. The defrag takes the information stored in our metadata, notes a better way of organizing all of it, and recopies everything onto the hard drive based on the optimum fit that will then allow for new things that you want to store to be written in a series, which is the fastest way for it to be read in the future.

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You’re only going to notice the work of a disk defragmenter if you have a full hard drive; if you have one that’s never been filled up, its files are already stored sequentially. Defrag is more for the drives that have been constantly full and had info deleted off of them so the user can store new stuff there. In those cases, there’s generally a significant upload speed difference before and after the drive is defragmented.

Because so much data must be moved around in order to defrag a disk, you generally have to set aside a few hours for your computer to complete the process. You should also make sure that none of the applications on your hard disk drive are running during the process. You also need to disable any screen saver you have in use.

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