How important is Defragmentation really?

Hi.... im new in the IT area and also in a new company as First Level Supporter, when it comes down to productive environments.
A working college of mine was complaining about her computer that the pc gets slower and slower, week by week. (From Boot to Desktop 10 minutes, most loading time is while desktop including shortcuts are already visible on screen but you cant do stuff cause its all loading and loading and loading.)

So i did the standard procedure.... malware/virus check, profile size (only 2gb in size) process monitoring, network monitoring, etc, etc.... i found nothing.

So i thought... well lets check the HDD.... maybe this is the choke point.

HDD total size is around 100 GB !!NO SSD!!
Used space around 33 GB
Framentation 70% :ouch: (With auslogic defrag)

The defrag software showed a loooooot red...
When i asked for permission in my IT office to run a defrag a college said "Well 70% is nothing to worry about and defrag wont help a lot when it comes down to performance.

Now i want to ask for some other opinions here.....
What do you guys think about defrag on normaly NTFS Harddiscs? My opinion was so far that you still should do it from time to time.... but enlighten me if im wrong. :D

Thank you!
11 answers Last reply
More about important defragmentation really
  1. I have mine setup to do defrag's once a week on non SSD setups. I like my systems to be as snappy as possible. I would say anything about 15% fragmented should be defragmented.
  2. It all depends on work load.

    The biggest problem with fragmentation is that is makes the hard drive have to go all over when it wants to read a fragmented file sequentially(in order. Lets say loading an image).

    Now if it is already doing random reads(lets say an MMO game that has elements from many places in the games files), you may not even notice the fragmentation because the head is jumping all over any way.

    Either way, I still defrag hard drives from time to time. If anything, moving data towards the outer edge of the disk speeds up read/write operations and help make large sections of open space if you need to do some sequential writing.

    Multitasking it self can lead to fragmentation as well.

    On home computers, keeping your windows and files on separate drives actually helps reduce fragmentation or at least it has for me.

    One way or another, The hard drive will always be a system bottle neck because it takes time to move the read/write head to its needed location. Fragmentation can cause it to have to make more moves giving you the slow down feeling. It will all depend on the workloads if you will even notice it or not.


    On my media center, I have about 25% fragmentation(Media Drive. The main drive in A M4 128 SSD). Now that is mostly media files with only 2-5 fragments each. It has not effect on playback as the drive can get to the next section without any skipping.

    This fragmentation most likely happens if the drive has to move(lets say music playback while something is recording) for one reason or another it just picks the nearest free space to write to when it has to go back to recording.
  3. You need to clean up the Cookies, Temporary Internet Files, and History etc. Also check how much RAM on that PC.
  4. Deleting and clearing space will trump the defrag procedure. If he's got 30gb of something he doesn't need anymore, get rid of that first.

    That being said, for this particular case 33used==70% free space; I would do the defrag, it won't hurt.

    It can also be possible that the disktime could be consumed by things like antivirus software (as well as antivirus logs), and other things like file encryption.

    The other guy has some truth to it; even though the HDD is fully fragmented and shows up red, you do the full defrag, and sometimes it doesn't make a huge improvement and disk is still slow.
    So he is right that *possibly* it won't help. But that's not really a reason against doing it. if it won't hurt, it is still worth trying (possibly win, no lose)
  5. I did Reg cleaning and Temp files cleaning already. No improvement after that.

    The Machine is a Core2Duo 2.1 GHz and 3 Gb RAM.

    On Idle the machine uses 1.2 GB RAM (WinXP SP3, Fully Patched. Navision,IE, Firefox Office 2010, ERP Software,VoIP Software) and some other working software installed.
    I have many of those type of PC´s running well in the same environment.

    It´s a workstation in a sales departement so there are many huge documents transfered and shared around on those computer also sometimes media files.
    But like i said user profile is quite small so it isnt a network issue for sure.

    Malware also should be no Problem since we checked with several programms already.

    Thx so much for your help and opinion guys!
  6. Do all the system have the same drives? That can make quite a difference.

    If you are using a very small amount of the hard drive, reducing the partition will force all data to the faster outer edge and reduce the distance the head has to travel leading to better performance :)
  7. Yea we have around 30 Machines of the exactly same type and same HDD.
    Nearly all of them working fine. I have 4 with that performance issue in the sales departement only. All other machines running like a charm.

    The idea the the partitions is very good. :) never thought about that idea. thanks! ;)

    And since my college said that it isnt really important to defrag an hdd i was questioning myself cause i thought that it should be done from now and then.
  8. I usually defarg if the drives is 15% or more fragmented. I also make sure none of my drives get over 85% full. Some defraggers run into problems if you don't have enough free space as it's trying to move files around.
  9. I have to wonder what they are doing different in the Sales Department.

    If the system are on 24/7, they will defrag at idle with all modern versions of Windows.

    I would say defrag one and note the difference. If not, look to see if anyone has installed extras on the systems. It is a paint, but msconfig'ing out things to see if one thing is slowing it all down may be the best option.
  10. I would also suggest CCleaner to get rid of a bunch of the junk on the system.
  11. I notice a difference in performance when i am removing junk files then defragmenting. I can tell by whether my CPU is bottlenecked (older single core PC with Win 7) or peaked around 60-80% during heavy hard drive use. After removing junk files & defragmenting (if it's needed of course) that will usually cause my CPU to be bottlenecked during loading several tabs on a launched browser. Not that it hinders the performance greatly (as in freezing or taking a minute or 2) but with my i7 it's just fairly instant to access tabs instead of a momentary lag.
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