Is defragging really worth it?

Defrag logoThe one thing I hate most about Windows is they way it slows down over time. It seems there is little you can do to stop this, especially if you’ve had your machine for a few years or so. I’ve tried uninstalling programs, deleting files and removing unnecessary extras but it seems that the only way you can ever return Windows to it’s glory is by wiping your hard drive and reinstalling from scratch again.

However, defragging is supposedly the one thing that can help remedy this problem. Due to the way it is made-up, the Windows file system becomes increasingly fragmented the more you use it. Defragging basically re-orders your hard drive files so that everything works in a much smoother way. Well that’s the theory. In reality, now that I’ve had my PC almost 3 years, I’m not noticing any real noticeable difference after defragging which is really annoying since the process can take a while and it feels like wasted time now.

One thing I’ve also noticed after defragging is that programs can suddenly stop working. The reason is that defragging can actually damage or corrupt dll driver files from time to time. As one poster on the Techspot forum points out:

You should only defrag every couple of months, or after installing new software. Defragging is necessary every now and then, but can lead to problems if files get damaged during the defrag process. Data errors do happen every once in a while, and if it happens to vital files you could end up with problems that are very difficult to diagnose. Defrag when required, but don’t overdo it because data corruption can/does happen when moving gigabytes of data around.

Defragging, then, can be useful but only if done periodically. There’s no point doing it once a year or even once every six months because by that stage, your disk will be so fragmented that the defragger will not be able to return it to its former state. However, at the same time, it’s not a good idea to do it every day because the constant reorganization of your files can lead to file errors.

Perhaps the best solutions are those such as Diskeeper which defrag in real-time meaning that your disk is always perfectly defragged all the time. This program “learns” how often it needs to run to maintain your particular system at an optimum level. The disadvantage of such a program is that it can kick-in whilst you are working and this may slow down your system while it defrags. However, once it has been used a few times, it settles into a rhythm that means it intrudes very infrequently and only when absolutely necessary.

The bottom line is: the nature of the defrag process probably means you’re better-off using a real time defragger to keep your system healthy. However, if you are going to periodically defrag, it can work but only when used in moderation and only if you’ve been using it from the start of your PC’s life. For those that now intend to turn over a new leaf, and are dissatisfied with Windows defragger, which is slow and often ineffective in my opinion, here are 10 alternatives you can use while Elena gives you a few other optimisation tips, which, when combined with defragging, can eliminate those slow-down blues.

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