How Often Should You Defrag Your Computer?

For most computer users, once a month is sufficient

When you use your computer, you see each file as a single unit of information, but that's not how your computer treats it. Each file is actually an amalgam of segments that the computer puts together on demand.

The process of restoring the file segments to a more centralized state is called defragmentation, and it's something you can and should perform on your computer periodically. The question for many people is "How often?"

Information in this article applies to Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

Why You Should Defragment Your Computer

As you use your computer over time, file parts are scattered across your hard drive. When the scattering becomes widespread, your computer takes longer to grab the right bits to put together your files. This process slows down your system's responsiveness. This can result in program errors. A common error in Photoshop—the Scratch Disk Full error— can be fixed by a simple defrag.

The Windows 10 defrag tool after the drives have been analyzed

The term "defragment" is often shortened to "defrag."

Defragment at Least Once per Month

If you're a normal user (meaning you use your computer for occasional web browsing, email, games, and the like), defragmenting once a month should be fine. If you're a heavy user, meaning you use the PC eight hours a day for work, you should do it more often, approximately once every two weeks. Also, if your computer is running slowly, consider defragmenting, as fragmentation may be the cause of slower operation.

As a general rule, any time your disk is more than 10 percent fragmented, you should defrag it.

In Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7, you can schedule defragmentation to happen as often as necessary. Check inside the defrag desktop program to see how and when it's scheduled to run and then adjust accordingly.

Defragmentation and SSDs

While defragmenting helps keep a hard drive in tiptop shape, it doesn't help solid-state drives (SSDs). The good news is if you have Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 7, the operating system can identify when you have an SSD, and it won't run the traditional defragmenting operation. Instead, it might run something called "optimization" to improve the performance of the SSD.

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