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Why Not Defragment Your Hard Disk Today?

Does your computer run as fast as it did the first day you brought it home from the store? If you have been using it for several months or more, more than likely it has begun to operate more slowly. There can be many causes for this, for example too many processes running simultaneously, or invasion by spy ware or a virus. But the most common cause is a fragmented hard disk.

First let’s understand what disk fragmentation is. A hard disk is constructed of disk shaped platters with a magnetizeable coating their surface. As the platters spin at a very high speed, tiny coils skim over the surface of each platter reading and writing data. Each of the circular paths on a platter is called a “track”. An arch section of a track is called a “sector”.

When a file is written, it is written to the first unused sector on the disk. When your computer was new and all the software was consecutively written to the hard drive, your hard drive looked similar to that shown below.

Defragmented Disk

While using your computer, you delete file A, write file D, and Enlarge file C and File A. This causes the data on your hard disk to be arranged as shown below.

Fragmented Disk

Now you can see that in order to read file A from the hard disk, the read coil has to search and skip for the scattered bits of the file. As files are written, deleted and rewritten in different size, unused blocks of space become discontiguous. Parts of individual files become scattered across the disk. Your computer takes longer to load applications and data files.

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