Disk Fragmentation Can Cause a Computer Runs Slow

In Computer Skills, Hardware Skills
Disk Defragment on a Hard Drive

If you have been using a computer many times, it’s very likely that its hard drive runs into a disk fragmentation. Every computer device has its normal limit of usage. So, there would be common problems found on your computer devices such as expired software, or damaged hardware. The hard drive is one of the main parts of computer hardware.

You usually do file storage on your computer hard drive whether in a form of documents, photos, pictures, or videos through this device. Hard drives will sometimes fail in storing or reading files. Let’s say an outdated hard drive saves a very old file, it may exist but you cannot copy or open it. The cause could your hard drive encounters a disk fragmentation. It’s why backing up your files to a cloud storage is really recommended.

Here we are going to discover more about disk fragmentation, especially if you are using Windows operating system. Even if you are using another operating system such as Linux. This article will also help you to find the solution for a disk fragmentation.

Disk Fragmentation

In general, a hard drive stores a file in different blocks which each of them is closely together to one another. The more you store files to the hard drive will automatically fill many blocks and oftentimes a part of a file could be placed in between blocks of a different file. Definitely, the capacity of the hard drive will be fully loaded. So, you can no longer store files it when all the blocks have been filled. Besides, other activities on a hard drive such as adding, modifying, or deleting files will also have an effect on its performance. Those activities are the causes of disk fragmentation on a hard drive.

Disk fragmentation is an unavoidable condition. Which is each block of a file could be scattered in the storage space. So, when you are going to access a file on your computer will take extra time for your computer to search the file among separate block sections on your hard drive.

How a Disk Fragmentation Occurs

The image is how to analogy a disk fragmentation. Let’s say A, B, C, and D are different files that each of them occupies a different block on a hard drive.

  • As you can see the first line of the image, the blocks of files are still close side-by-side together on a hard drive.
  • On the second line, the file B is deleted. So, automatically there’s a space gap between the block A and C.
  • Then, file E file is added to the third line. But the difference is that the size of file E is smaller. This makes a little space gap still exist between block E and C. Computer determines that space is still can be filled.
  • And on the fourth line of the image, file F is added. As the capacity of the file F is larger, the storage is divided into an empty space between file E and C, and after file D.

You probably still be able to imagine that short description. But your hard drive has a lot of storage, in which you cannot imagine thousands to millions of scattered files. Therefore, you need to defrag your computer hard drives (disk defragmenter). However, doing defrag depends on what operating system you currently use. Basically, every operating system has a different way of doing hard disk reading.

Disk Defragmenter is a function in Microsoft Windows that when you run it can help to increase the data access speed of your computer. It works by rearranging the entire files on your hard drive to re-fill them contiguously on your computer storage locations. This process is what we call as defragmentation. The latest Windows versions (7, 8, and 10) works automatically to defrag data storage on a schedule. So, you are no longer need to worry about disk defragmentation if you are using one of the latest Windows versions.

Hard Drive Reading on Windows

Microsoft has applied NTFS system technology to the latest Windows versions. The main features of the NTFS system are:

  • Transparent data compression
  • Setting quota per partition
  • Alternate data stream

This technology is clearly more advanced than the old Windows versions, where the storage media is still using FAT. NTFS is able to maximize disk performance by making use of empty blocks around the filled blocks. This is certainly different from FAT system utilization which is searching for the nearest empty block starts from the first file in the storage space.

However, although NTFS technology has more features, the storage media on Windows still also need to defrag periodically. Given that there would be still disk fragmentation on Windows computer. The latest Windows versions use an auto defrag when the system is in system idle mode.

Hard Drive Reading on Linux

Linux has a system that is devoted to the Linux kernel with its extended file system (ext) format. As you might also know that we can find ext2, ext3, and ext4 files on Linux. Each of those three extensions is different in the preparing blocks for data storage.

Unlike the NTFS file system, ext does deploy files across hard disks when performing data storage activities. So, when you make data changes on Linux, there will be a large area for the data development. Meanwhile, when the Linux system detects a disk fragmentation, the file will be moved automatically by the system to normalize. You may still find disk fragmentation in using Linux when the hard drive capacity is almost exhausted.

Even though Linux system doesn’t require defrag, but you can still defrag Linux. You simply back up the entire files and delete the partition. Then, copy those backup files to the partition again, Linux will automatically manage the data storage better than before.

Now, after reading this article, hopefully, you can find a solution to overcome disk fragmentation that causes your computer runs slow. But sometimes the main cause of a slow computer is not the hard drive. If you find out that your computer still runs slow after doing defrag, you may still be able to check other causes. It could be due to a certain Software program, computer viruses, or RAM for example.

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