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How To Defragment Disk in Windows 10 & Windows 11

Fragmentation reduces the disk performance and slows it down considerably. Here is how to defragment disk in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

No matter what type of storage you are using, disk fragmentation happens in Windows and almost every other operating system. To deal with that, Windows has a built-in tool to quickly and efficiently defragment the disk.

Today, I will show some simple steps to defragment disk in Windows 10 and Windows 11. Follow the steps as shown below, and the disk is defragged in no time.

So, what is disk fragmentation?

Whenever you create a new file, copy data, or modify a file, Windows writes the data to the disk in available areas, called Clusters. You can think of Clusters as small sections that can contain a limited capacity of data. In general, the data you write to the disk occupies multiple clusters. The bigger the file, the more clusters it will occupy.

The operating system doesn’t necessarily write data to clusters that are side-by-side to increase the write performance and speed. That way, it doesn’t waste time or cluster space. For example, let’s say you copied a Word document to your computer. At first, Windows assigns specific clusters to store that Word document. After some days, you modified the document, which increased its file size. In that case, Windows has to look for new clusters to save the new data because the clusters next to it might already be occupied with data from some other files. The new clusters can be anywhere on your disk. Put simply; the data is fragmented across the disk causing Disk Fragmentation.

Though the fragmentation increases write performance, it can negatively affect the read performance of a disk. For instance, it is easier for Windows to grab data in side-by-side clusters than go to an entirely new location.

To alleviate the problem, Windows has a built-in mechanism called Disk Defragmentation. On running this tool, it reorganizes the data, so it is no longer fragmented. By default, defragmentation runs on schedule and requires no user intervention. However, if the disk is slow, it is better to run the defragmentation tool manually to be sure.

Note: If you are running an SSD, I recommend you don’t defrag it manually. Let Windows take care of it. However, you can undoubtedly defrag a regular mechanical hard drive.

Defragment disk in Windows

To defragment the disk, we are going to the built-in Defragmentation tool in Windows. There is no need for any third-party software.

  1. Open the Start menu.
  2. Search and open the “Defragment and Optimize Drives” tool.
  3. Select the drive to defrag.
  4. Click the “Optimize” button.
  5. The tool will start the defragmentation process.
  6. Once done, you can close the Defragment tool.

Detailed steps:

First, we need to open the Defragment tool. To do that, open the Start menu, search for “Defragment and Optimize Drives,” and open it.

After opening the tool, you will see all the drives listed in the main section. The program will helpfully tell if a drive needs defragmentation under the “Status” section. If it says “Needs Optimization,” then the drive needs to be defragged. If it says, “Ok,” there is no need for any optimization.

You can force Windows to analyze if a drive is fragmented. To do that, select the drive and click the “Analyze” button. This action makes Windows scan the drive and see if it requires defragmentation.

To defrag a drive, select it in the main list and click the “Optimize” button. To defrag multiple drives at once, you can choose all of them using the Ctrl key. As soon as you press the Optimize button, Windows will defrag the drive and optimize it. Depending on the drive size, the data in it, and how fragmented it is, the optimization can take some to complete.

If you are wondering, depending on the storage type, Windows will use specific methods to defrag a drive. For example, the defrag methods are entirely different for mechanical HDDs and SSDs. So, you don’t need to worry even if you are running defrag on an SSD.

Once the defragmentation is complete, the tool will let you know the same. You can safely close the Defragmentation tool.

The drive(s) is now defragmented.

I hope that helps. If you are stuck or need some help, comment below, and I will try to help as much as possible.

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