Disk defragmentation is an operation by which the operating system detects the “fragmented” files that are present on the hard disk (that is, the files that, due to lack of contiguous spaces, have been saved in a fragmented way on the disk) and brings them together. This allows you to keep all the information neat and, therefore, to speed up access to files and programs.
Windows, which is the most needed defragmentation operating system (because it uses file systems like NTFS and FAT32 that are particularly prone to data fragmentation), includes a utility that automatically takes care of defragmentation analyzing the status of the hard disks and defragmenting them at regular time intervals (once a week) during times of user inactivity.
Usually, everything is working properly and so you do not need to start the defragmentation “manually”, but sometimes it can happen that defragmentation is not performed for long periods (because Windows does not find long periods of inactivity to complete the task operation) or to be deactivated by optimizing software installed on the PC.
If you have a PC equipped with Windows 10, you have noticed a decline in performance when opening files and/or running applications, you would do well to give a “check” to the defragmentation utility and verify that it is set correctly. I assure you that this is really a breeze.
All you have to do is take a few minutes of free time and put into practice the advice on how to defrag Windows 10 I’m about to give you. The guidelines, in principle, also apply to Windows 8.x and Windows 7 (in fact the defragmentation utility is quite similar on all the newer versions of the Microsoft operating system), but are to be considered specific for Windows 10. Enjoy the reading!
- Defragmentation: hard disk vs SSD
- Defragment a disk on Windows 10
- Programs to defrag Windows 10
Defragmentation: hard disk vs SSD
With the spread of SSDs (solid state drives) that are much faster than mechanical hard drives and run completely differently than the latter, many wonder if defragmentation still has any use. The answer is no.
Defragmentation is of vital importance on classic mechanical hard disks that are very slow and therefore allow you to better appreciate the benefits of defragmentation, but it also has some utility on SSDs. If you let the Windows Defragmenter work automatically, it will automatically recognize the SSDs and will optimize its operation without “exaggerating” with defragmentation.
To be precise, the Windows 10 utility provides to defragment the SSDs about once a month (if necessary and if there is the active system restore function on the latter) and find them with commands like the TRIM, which allows to eliminate blocks no longer used on solid state drives and allows to keep the performance of the latter always at the top.
If you want to get to the point and see how to defrag Windows 10, read on. Find all the information you need right below.
Defragment a disk on Windows 10
To start the defragmentation utility included in Windows 10 and check the state of fragmentation of the disks, click on the Start button (the flag placed in the lower left corner of the screen), search for the term “defragment” in the menu that opens and select the Defragment icon and optimize units from the search results.
In the window that opens, take a look at the Scheduled Optimization pane at the bottom: if it contains the word Activated, it means that the Windows defragmentation utility is active and that already takes care of optimizing the drives in an automatic way. Otherwise, you will have to act on the settings of the utility and activate the automatic optimization of the disks.
To change the defragmentation utility settings and enable automatic disk optimization, click the Change Settings button located at the bottom right and put the check mark next to the Run items according to a schedule (recommended) and Notification in the case of three consecutive scheduled executions not completed in the window that opens.
At this point, select the frequency with which to automatically optimize the discs from the appropriate drop-down menu (I recommend you every week, but you can also choose Every month; every day seems excessive) and click on the Select button to select the unit to which automatic optimization applies. I suggest you enable optimization on all drives, hard drives and SSDs.
Once the automatic optimization of the disks has been activated, I advise you to check the current status of the various units and, if necessary, to defragment “manually” those that need them.
To check the fragmentation status of a drive, all you have to do is go back to the main defragmentation utility window and check the entries that are next to the name of each drive: in the Last run column you will find the date on which it was executed the last time you defragment the drive, while in the Current Status column you will find the drive status.
If you find the word Optimization required in the “Current status” column means that data on the drive is fragmented and needs defragmentation. If instead, you do not find anything written in the “Current status” column, it means that the Windows defragmentation utility has not yet verified the status of the unit and that you have to “force” the verification by selecting its name and pressing the Analyze button (which it is at the bottom).
Once you have checked the status of a disk, to start the defragmentation manually, select its icon and click on the Optimize button located at the bottom right. The operation could take a few minutes or several hours, depending on the type of disk (mechanical disks require much more time than SSDs) and the degree of data fragmentation.
My advice, concluding, is to let the Windows utility work automatically and check from time to time (like once a month) that it is active and is doing its job properly.
Programs to defrag Windows 10
The defragmentation utility included in Windows 10 does its job well and is sufficient for the vast majority of users. However, it must be said that there are also third-party solutions that allow you to have more control over disk defragmentation.
Among the (few) alternative programs to defrag Windows 10 that I recommend you consider, there is Defraggler which is produced by the same company of CCleaner (very popular free software for deleting useless files) and offers a very flexible control over the activities defragmentation of mechanical hard drives and SSDs.
To download Defraggler on your PC, connected to its official website and click on the Download Free Version button first and then on Free Download and download from filehippo.com (under the Defraggler Free icon ). When the download is complete, open the Defraggler installation package ( dfsetupxx.exe ), click on the Yes button and select your language from the drop-down menu for the language selection (lower right).
At this point, click on the Next and Next buttons, uncheck the Replace Windows Defragmenter entry (unless you want to completely replace the Windows utility with Defraggler) and click on Next again.
Finally, put the check mark next to the item No, thanks. I do not need CCleaner to avoid the download of CCleaner (which is very useful but not necessary for disk defragmentation) and click on Next and End to finish the setup.
After installation, to check the status of a disk with Defraggler and possibly defragment it, start the application, select the unit to be examined and click on the Analyze button located at the bottom left. Within a few minutes, a graph should appear with the fragmentation status of the drive and, in the Fragmentation column at the top, an indication of the degree of disk fragmentation (in percent).
If the percentage of fragmentation of the analyzed unit is very high, you can control its defragmentation by selecting its icon in the main Defraggler window and pressing the Defragment button located at the bottom left.
If you are in a hurry and you want to just “shake” the disk by defragmenting the minimum necessary to improve performance, click on the arrow ▼ that is next to the “Defragment” button and select the Quick Defragmentation item from the menu that opens to start a fast disk defragmentation.
If you are a fairly experienced user, you can adjust the advanced settings related to Defraggler defragmentation by selecting the Options item from the Program Settings menu (top left). In addition, by going to the Settings> Schedule menu and putting the check mark next to Schedule defragmentation of the chosen volume you can set the automatic defragmentation of a unit on a daily, weekly, monthly, every time you log in, every time you start the PC or off.
Expanding the Defragmentation Type pop-up menu you can also choose the type of defragmentation to be performed automatically (eg complete or quick), and by checking the Apply additional conditions and pressing the Set button you can set additional parameters for the procedure automatic defragmentation (for example, you can automatically stop the defragmentation if it lasts more than a few hours or enable it only above certain fragmentation on drive thresholds.
Personally, I advise you to use Defraggler instead of the defragmentation utility included in Windows 10 only in case of real need (ie if the default utility does not work or does not seem to do its job well). If you decide to use Defraggler on an ongoing basis, be sure to disable automatic defragmentation of the utility included with Windows.