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What is Fragmentation

Fragmentation refers to fragmented data on a hard disk. When new data is created on a hard disk, the physical location of that data on the drive is often not optimal. A single file, for example, may have some parts located in one area of the physical disk while other parts may be located elsewhere. Having data spread out in such a physically disorganized manner makes your hard disk work harder to read that file, thus decreasing loading speeds and making an overall negative impact on the performance of your computer. For example, a file which is severely fragmented may be stored in hundreds of different locations on the disk rather than having its data stored in an organized, contiguous manner.

Defragmenting you hard drive is a maintenance task that should be run regularly or, as is often the case, scheduled to run automatically at specified intervals. It should be noted, however, that solid state hard drives do not need to be defragmented since they have moving parts and attempting to defragment them will have absolutely no influence on their performance. Defragmenting a disk can take a long time, especially if it hasn't been done before. If it's a task that you carry out regularly, as you should, defragmenting usually only takes a matter of minutes. Factors such as hard disk speed, space used and the level of fragmentation all dictate how long the process actually takes. In worst-case scenarios, you may have to leave Disk Defragmenter running over night to get the job done.

To defragment a disk in Windows 7, open "Computer" from the start menu and right-click on the disk that you want to defragment. This will most likely be your system hard drive, or the "C:" drive. Click "Properties" and open the "Tools" tab. Click "Defragment now" to have Windows analyse the disk and defragment the data on it. Once the disk has been defragmented, all of the data contained on it will be stored contiguously, making a considerable improvement in performance in many cases.


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