why is defragging not really a thing anymore?

19 views

I was born in 1973, got my first computer in 1994, defragging was part of regular maintenance. I can’t remember the last time I defragged anything, even though I have several devices with hard drives, including a Windows laptop. Has storage technology changed so much that defragging isn’t necessary anymore? Is it even possible to defrag a smart phone hard drive?

edit to add: I apologize for posting this same question several times, I was getting an error message every time I hit “post”… but from looking around, it seems I’m not the only one having this problem today.

In: 821

I believe Defragmentation was more important on older hard drives with spinning disks than it is in the more modern super fast flash drives. OS’s are also better at the way they store data to avoid needing to defrag.

Solid state storage has changed things a lot. Previously data was stored in a particlar position on a disc and defragging tried to put that data in logical places so that the machine didn’t have to work so hard to read and write it.

Solid state drives have no moving parts and so the seek time is a small fraction of a hard drive’s. The real problem is that each bit on a solid state drive has only a limited number of writes and rewrites, so the drive is trying to strategically spread the use out over all the storage space.

So a defrag not only makes little real sense in a data organization way, but it can potentially lower the life of the drive by putting it through un-necessary write and rewrite cycles.

Super short over simplified answer, traditional hard drives stored data on platters. When the drive is squeezing part of a game file in-between your cat pictures, it’s not written necessarily written in the most optimal location and can cause delays while seeking to that point.

SSDs it doesn’t matter because the table is kept exactly where each file is and doesn’t need to find it on a spinning platter at 5k+ rpm

In addition to the HDD/SSD split, the older drive formatting types like FAT needed to be defragged. The more modern ones like NTFS and XFS are smarter in how to allocate data and, in conjunction with better operating systems, do not need to be defragged much, if at all.

Fragmentation on a hard disk still creates the same issues with slowed speeds as it did in the past. Modern disks are so much faster that a moderate level of fragmentation might not be noticed. Full defragmentation of a multi-terabyte disk would take too long and cause some wear on it. Hard disks are usually used for large multimedia files like video and music, which are copied in large blocks and rarely rewritten, and their level of fragmentation is therefore low.

Portable computers and many desktops today include solid-state Flash Memory instead of a hard disk. Data allocation on it is managed internally with intent to spread wear and allow speeds utilizing multiple chips. Flash memory can be written to a limited number of times before they fail. Defragmenting this storage device would not improve performance.

Modenr Storage is now mostly done with solid state drives whihc due to how they operate make defragging unnecessary(and even harmful since SSD flash cells have a rated number of writes). insteadd what SSDs have is a process Called TRIM which is for msot part handled automatically by the OS.

for the few situations where HDDs are still used defragging is still doable but hardly necessary since most of these drives are just for storage now.

Because SSDs rule the world and they couldn’t care less how ridiculously dispersed the individual bits are for a file, they can access them so stupidly fast it no longer matters. Moving HDDs can’t access data that’s spread out all that quickly, and it also puts wear on the disk to move around that much searching, so it was, and still is for HDDs, recommended to defrag regularly.

* Bigger disks
* Better filesystems
* SSD vs. HDD
* Larger caches

Bigger disks: Most folks don’t spend much time with their disk at 90% capacity anymore, so the filesystem doesn’t have to split files up as much to find room for them.

Better filesystems: The OS engineers have come up with cleverer ways to organize files on disk, which produce less fragmentation even under storage pressure.

SSD vs. HDD: The geometry of storage devices is different, and SSDs are also just plain faster.

Larger caches: Your machine has lots of RAM, and your OS can use a lot of it to prefetch and cache disk contents, so you don’t notice the effects of slightly slower disk access due to fragmentation.

Most forms of storage support fragmentation. It splits up a large file into smaller pieces to fit between other things. Kind of like a whole Encyclopedia Britannica with 36 volumes doesn’t fit in your bookshelf so to save time you just put each volume where it fits. By keeping a record of where you put them you can find them nearly as easily.

For HDDs (hard disk drives) they use a spinning piece of metal like the bookshelf in this metaphor. It takes time for it to spin and computers are incredibly fast so this delay slows everything down. To minimize this you can rearrange the bookshelf or defragment, moving things around to allow your Encyclopedia Britannica to all fit on one shelf, making loading it faster.

Modern computers tend to use SSDs (solid state disks) which are all electrical and this don’t need to spin. That means that fragmentation doesn’t matter.

Additionally wear is important. HDD can survive more write cycles (changing the value stored) than the lifetime of the device. In constrast SSDs could easily wear out during the lifetime. To help with this the SSD spreads out where it writes things, defragmentation would increase writes and also force those writes to be on particular locations both of which reduce the lifetime of the drive.

Like everyone else is saying, SSDs don’t need to be defragmented remotely as often as old HDDs did.

Also – since Windows Vista, Windows has contained tools to slowly and passively defragment in the background when needed. The tech has been slowly refined over versions and, as of Win10, even if you use exclusively old HDDs, you’re unlikely to ever need to manually defragment.

Defragmentaion was essentially moving data around to for into containers that best for their size. Defragmentaion was more required with older storage formats like FAT-16 and FAT-32 where data had to be stored into something like a container on the disk. 27kb data chunk would be stored in a container that allowed for 32kb for instance and the entire drives partition is made up of these little containers. Eventually we moved on to a new storage formatting called NTFS which essentially forms these sections to the size of the data which made defragmentaion less needed. Furthermore solid state drives only allowed for days to be written to it so many times before permanent damage is done so defragmentaion is actually harmful to them.

Hard drives use discs to store data, it’s similar to a CD. Data is stored in any available space, so it might not all be in the same space. imagine listening to a CD, but each song is interrupted by another. Defragging is used to move data in a way that the data can be read without too much work. now you can listen to that song without interruption!

Nowadays, SSDs are fairly common, which are more like flash drives or SD cards. Each song is equally accessible in one of these, so there’s no need to defragment one. Phones use this media because it’s cheap and can be dropped without risking a disc to skip.

SSD’s don’t really care *where* the data is because it doesn’t have a seeker head, so it doesn’t benefit you as much to read files from continuous blocks. There is a similar task called TRIM which helps with performance, it is automatically turned on so you don’t really have to do anything.

A hard disk is fastest when reading sequentially (i.e. memory position 1, then 2, then 3 etc.), so defragging takes all the bits of data that should be together and puts them in a line. With an SSD, the read speed isn’t really affected by having the data spread out across the drive, so defragging won’t improve speed.

Side note as to why the data gets spread out in the first place: You start off writing stuff in order, but when you delete something it leaves a little gap. Next time you write something, you don’t want to leave that little gap unused, so part of the file goes there and part of it goes somewhere else. When your computer is writing and deleting loads of files, it quickly becomes a mess.

After Windows XP Microsoft basically set an automatic task that would run when it detected the computer to be idle that would quickly defrag commonly used data. Pretty great for mechanical spinning hard drives and it meant you really didn’t need to do a full defrag anywhere near as often as you used to. Once we switched to Solid state drives with no moving parts it became far less necessary because even if your data isn’t physically adjacent on the drive, the drive controller still has access to all the data at once without a seek time (time it took for a mechanical drive to spin up, move the read head, and retrieve the requested data). Technically you CAN defrag an SSD, but it doesn’t lead to noticeable improvement and it may actually shorten the life of the drive overall due to the added read/write cycles.

Your HDD is like a sheet of paper and you need to record all your notes for the whole day. If you write them all in tiny print in the corner of the sheet, over time your sheet will get damaged up there from erasing and rewriting all day, while the rest of the sheet is basically brand new. “Defragging” will spread those notes out in an organized way so you spend less time finding what you wrote. It will also prevent the corner of your paper from being the only spot used, saving some wear and tear on that area.

With an SSD, it’s not a blank sheet of paper but a daily planner, so you don’t need to organize things (defrag) because they’re already easy to access. If you did reorganize things anyways, you’d have to erase and rewrite things causing wear to your planner that’s unnecessary.

Oh I know this one. In a traditional hard drive, data was stored in strips around a disc. As things are deleted, the location of that storage didn’t change. So, if you deleted, let’s say, 2 programs or files worth 20 gigs, you would have two, 20 gig “holes” somewhere where those items once were stored. Now let’s say that this is the only remaining 40 gigs on your hard drive, and you installed a 40 gig file. That file would have to be split between those two empty spaces. You’d have 20 gigs of it somewhere, and 20 gigs of it somewhere else. They may not necessarily be inline with one another, but there is an “address” associated with those file locations so your computer can find them in storage. This can be inefficient, however, as your computer would have to be using two different locations in memory to access this information. Defragging is the process in which the empty space left behind by old delete files is removed. A process that has the hard drive basically remove a file from one location and relocates it to abut the previous file. Thus, if you had 60 gigs of space before defragging, you could have 5 gigs in one spot, 30 in another, 15 in another, and 10 in another. With that, if you save a 60 gig file, it is going to split it up into 4 different places in memory. Instead, defragging puts all your files end to end, each existing at a single address, so your new, 60 gig file can be stored at the end, all in one location.

Imagine you have a town with 50 houses. In each house is a piece of paper. On that paper is a chapter of a book.
You’re tasked with putting the book together for your publisher. You have the index in your hands which shows you where the chapters are in the town by their address.
The old way would be to run to each house in order, and pick up a chapter of the book and then stick them together and then give someone the book. Chapter One might be next door to you, and Chapter Two might be across town. Defragmenting would be like putting all the chapters sequentially in neighboring houses so you could just walk down the street and pick up the chapters in order.

The new way is like having a computer network where you can just download the book piece by piece near instantly from each house.

Most drives in the older days (HDD) had spinning platters where heads would have to read data from one part of the drive, move the head, spin the drive, and read data from another part. This head moving took time. Defragmentation actually put data on the drive in sequence, so the head wouldn’t have to move back and forth to get the data. In fact, some drives put higher-used data on the outer edge of the drive since it had a higher rotational velocity and more data per “row” It’s called [Zone Bit Recording](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_bit_recording).
Newer drives (SSD) use flash storage, or chips. There’s no moving parts. You simply have a set of memory addresses and can fetch them quite quickly without any delay in between chunks that are read.
Also fun fact: Most modern OSs won’t let you defragment SSDs because A) it makes no sense and B) you have a limited number of writes on each address of the drive before it [fails](https://www.crucial.com/articles/about-ssd/should-you-defrag-an-ssd).

For HDDs, Since windows 10 / vista the defragmentation process was significantly refined it was no longer a linear process – instead it would do the most impactful changes which were the minimal effort. This allowed it to be moved to a background process and works when there are free resources.

I believe it’s not longer feasible to visualise in a satisfying way as before due to the size of drives and so it doesn’t have to scan the whole drive to produce the graphic?

What defragmenting does is move files that are split physically over different parts of a magnetic disc (in HDD, in general) together, so that when you access that file it can do it reading from the same area instead of having to go back and forth in search for a piece here and a piece there.

in SSD, defragging is simply detrimental – as there’s nothing spinning and no real physical sectors to keep contiguous, the only thing you are doing is wasting memory cells’ writing cycles.

on HDD it is still a thing – it’s just that it doesn’t matter as much for storage, if you access your stuff in a second or in 3. for cases where it does matter, it is still very much a thing.

phones and 99.9% of portable devices don’t use HDD anymore but just use flash memory for storage, and that one you shouldn’t (and in most cases can’t, as explained above) defragment.

To this, you have to add ram quantities. when ram was a couple (let alone less) GB, you can’t keep a lot of stuff in there and you have to keep reading the disc. Nowadays it’s fairly standard for a new pc to have at least 16GB, which makes keeping something there (instead of having to retrieve it from a disk) way easier and faster.

​

I believe these are the reasons why you have stopped defragmenting so much.

0 views

I was born in 1973, got my first computer in 1994, defragging was part of regular maintenance. I can’t remember the last time I defragged anything, even though I have several devices with hard drives, including a Windows laptop. Has storage technology changed so much that defragging isn’t necessary anymore? Is it even possible to defrag a smart phone hard drive?

edit to add: I apologize for posting this same question several times, I was getting an error message every time I hit “post”… but from looking around, it seems I’m not the only one having this problem today.

In: 821

I believe Defragmentation was more important on older hard drives with spinning disks than it is in the more modern super fast flash drives. OS’s are also better at the way they store data to avoid needing to defrag.

Solid state storage has changed things a lot. Previously data was stored in a particlar position on a disc and defragging tried to put that data in logical places so that the machine didn’t have to work so hard to read and write it.

Solid state drives have no moving parts and so the seek time is a small fraction of a hard drive’s. The real problem is that each bit on a solid state drive has only a limited number of writes and rewrites, so the drive is trying to strategically spread the use out over all the storage space.

So a defrag not only makes little real sense in a data organization way, but it can potentially lower the life of the drive by putting it through un-necessary write and rewrite cycles.

Super short over simplified answer, traditional hard drives stored data on platters. When the drive is squeezing part of a game file in-between your cat pictures, it’s not written necessarily written in the most optimal location and can cause delays while seeking to that point.

SSDs it doesn’t matter because the table is kept exactly where each file is and doesn’t need to find it on a spinning platter at 5k+ rpm

In addition to the HDD/SSD split, the older drive formatting types like FAT needed to be defragged. The more modern ones like NTFS and XFS are smarter in how to allocate data and, in conjunction with better operating systems, do not need to be defragged much, if at all.

Fragmentation on a hard disk still creates the same issues with slowed speeds as it did in the past. Modern disks are so much faster that a moderate level of fragmentation might not be noticed. Full defragmentation of a multi-terabyte disk would take too long and cause some wear on it. Hard disks are usually used for large multimedia files like video and music, which are copied in large blocks and rarely rewritten, and their level of fragmentation is therefore low.

Portable computers and many desktops today include solid-state Flash Memory instead of a hard disk. Data allocation on it is managed internally with intent to spread wear and allow speeds utilizing multiple chips. Flash memory can be written to a limited number of times before they fail. Defragmenting this storage device would not improve performance.

Modenr Storage is now mostly done with solid state drives whihc due to how they operate make defragging unnecessary(and even harmful since SSD flash cells have a rated number of writes). insteadd what SSDs have is a process Called TRIM which is for msot part handled automatically by the OS.

for the few situations where HDDs are still used defragging is still doable but hardly necessary since most of these drives are just for storage now.

Because SSDs rule the world and they couldn’t care less how ridiculously dispersed the individual bits are for a file, they can access them so stupidly fast it no longer matters. Moving HDDs can’t access data that’s spread out all that quickly, and it also puts wear on the disk to move around that much searching, so it was, and still is for HDDs, recommended to defrag regularly.

* Bigger disks
* Better filesystems
* SSD vs. HDD
* Larger caches

Bigger disks: Most folks don’t spend much time with their disk at 90% capacity anymore, so the filesystem doesn’t have to split files up as much to find room for them.

Better filesystems: The OS engineers have come up with cleverer ways to organize files on disk, which produce less fragmentation even under storage pressure.

SSD vs. HDD: The geometry of storage devices is different, and SSDs are also just plain faster.

Larger caches: Your machine has lots of RAM, and your OS can use a lot of it to prefetch and cache disk contents, so you don’t notice the effects of slightly slower disk access due to fragmentation.

Most forms of storage support fragmentation. It splits up a large file into smaller pieces to fit between other things. Kind of like a whole Encyclopedia Britannica with 36 volumes doesn’t fit in your bookshelf so to save time you just put each volume where it fits. By keeping a record of where you put them you can find them nearly as easily.

For HDDs (hard disk drives) they use a spinning piece of metal like the bookshelf in this metaphor. It takes time for it to spin and computers are incredibly fast so this delay slows everything down. To minimize this you can rearrange the bookshelf or defragment, moving things around to allow your Encyclopedia Britannica to all fit on one shelf, making loading it faster.

Modern computers tend to use SSDs (solid state disks) which are all electrical and this don’t need to spin. That means that fragmentation doesn’t matter.

Additionally wear is important. HDD can survive more write cycles (changing the value stored) than the lifetime of the device. In constrast SSDs could easily wear out during the lifetime. To help with this the SSD spreads out where it writes things, defragmentation would increase writes and also force those writes to be on particular locations both of which reduce the lifetime of the drive.

Like everyone else is saying, SSDs don’t need to be defragmented remotely as often as old HDDs did.

Also – since Windows Vista, Windows has contained tools to slowly and passively defragment in the background when needed. The tech has been slowly refined over versions and, as of Win10, even if you use exclusively old HDDs, you’re unlikely to ever need to manually defragment.

Defragmentaion was essentially moving data around to for into containers that best for their size. Defragmentaion was more required with older storage formats like FAT-16 and FAT-32 where data had to be stored into something like a container on the disk. 27kb data chunk would be stored in a container that allowed for 32kb for instance and the entire drives partition is made up of these little containers. Eventually we moved on to a new storage formatting called NTFS which essentially forms these sections to the size of the data which made defragmentaion less needed. Furthermore solid state drives only allowed for days to be written to it so many times before permanent damage is done so defragmentaion is actually harmful to them.

Hard drives use discs to store data, it’s similar to a CD. Data is stored in any available space, so it might not all be in the same space. imagine listening to a CD, but each song is interrupted by another. Defragging is used to move data in a way that the data can be read without too much work. now you can listen to that song without interruption!

Nowadays, SSDs are fairly common, which are more like flash drives or SD cards. Each song is equally accessible in one of these, so there’s no need to defragment one. Phones use this media because it’s cheap and can be dropped without risking a disc to skip.

SSD’s don’t really care *where* the data is because it doesn’t have a seeker head, so it doesn’t benefit you as much to read files from continuous blocks. There is a similar task called TRIM which helps with performance, it is automatically turned on so you don’t really have to do anything.

A hard disk is fastest when reading sequentially (i.e. memory position 1, then 2, then 3 etc.), so defragging takes all the bits of data that should be together and puts them in a line. With an SSD, the read speed isn’t really affected by having the data spread out across the drive, so defragging won’t improve speed.

Side note as to why the data gets spread out in the first place: You start off writing stuff in order, but when you delete something it leaves a little gap. Next time you write something, you don’t want to leave that little gap unused, so part of the file goes there and part of it goes somewhere else. When your computer is writing and deleting loads of files, it quickly becomes a mess.

After Windows XP Microsoft basically set an automatic task that would run when it detected the computer to be idle that would quickly defrag commonly used data. Pretty great for mechanical spinning hard drives and it meant you really didn’t need to do a full defrag anywhere near as often as you used to. Once we switched to Solid state drives with no moving parts it became far less necessary because even if your data isn’t physically adjacent on the drive, the drive controller still has access to all the data at once without a seek time (time it took for a mechanical drive to spin up, move the read head, and retrieve the requested data). Technically you CAN defrag an SSD, but it doesn’t lead to noticeable improvement and it may actually shorten the life of the drive overall due to the added read/write cycles.

Your HDD is like a sheet of paper and you need to record all your notes for the whole day. If you write them all in tiny print in the corner of the sheet, over time your sheet will get damaged up there from erasing and rewriting all day, while the rest of the sheet is basically brand new. “Defragging” will spread those notes out in an organized way so you spend less time finding what you wrote. It will also prevent the corner of your paper from being the only spot used, saving some wear and tear on that area.

With an SSD, it’s not a blank sheet of paper but a daily planner, so you don’t need to organize things (defrag) because they’re already easy to access. If you did reorganize things anyways, you’d have to erase and rewrite things causing wear to your planner that’s unnecessary.

Oh I know this one. In a traditional hard drive, data was stored in strips around a disc. As things are deleted, the location of that storage didn’t change. So, if you deleted, let’s say, 2 programs or files worth 20 gigs, you would have two, 20 gig “holes” somewhere where those items once were stored. Now let’s say that this is the only remaining 40 gigs on your hard drive, and you installed a 40 gig file. That file would have to be split between those two empty spaces. You’d have 20 gigs of it somewhere, and 20 gigs of it somewhere else. They may not necessarily be inline with one another, but there is an “address” associated with those file locations so your computer can find them in storage. This can be inefficient, however, as your computer would have to be using two different locations in memory to access this information. Defragging is the process in which the empty space left behind by old delete files is removed. A process that has the hard drive basically remove a file from one location and relocates it to abut the previous file. Thus, if you had 60 gigs of space before defragging, you could have 5 gigs in one spot, 30 in another, 15 in another, and 10 in another. With that, if you save a 60 gig file, it is going to split it up into 4 different places in memory. Instead, defragging puts all your files end to end, each existing at a single address, so your new, 60 gig file can be stored at the end, all in one location.

Imagine you have a town with 50 houses. In each house is a piece of paper. On that paper is a chapter of a book.
You’re tasked with putting the book together for your publisher. You have the index in your hands which shows you where the chapters are in the town by their address.
The old way would be to run to each house in order, and pick up a chapter of the book and then stick them together and then give someone the book. Chapter One might be next door to you, and Chapter Two might be across town. Defragmenting would be like putting all the chapters sequentially in neighboring houses so you could just walk down the street and pick up the chapters in order.

The new way is like having a computer network where you can just download the book piece by piece near instantly from each house.

Most drives in the older days (HDD) had spinning platters where heads would have to read data from one part of the drive, move the head, spin the drive, and read data from another part. This head moving took time. Defragmentation actually put data on the drive in sequence, so the head wouldn’t have to move back and forth to get the data. In fact, some drives put higher-used data on the outer edge of the drive since it had a higher rotational velocity and more data per “row” It’s called [Zone Bit Recording](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_bit_recording).
Newer drives (SSD) use flash storage, or chips. There’s no moving parts. You simply have a set of memory addresses and can fetch them quite quickly without any delay in between chunks that are read.
Also fun fact: Most modern OSs won’t let you defragment SSDs because A) it makes no sense and B) you have a limited number of writes on each address of the drive before it [fails](https://www.crucial.com/articles/about-ssd/should-you-defrag-an-ssd).

For HDDs, Since windows 10 / vista the defragmentation process was significantly refined it was no longer a linear process – instead it would do the most impactful changes which were the minimal effort. This allowed it to be moved to a background process and works when there are free resources.

I believe it’s not longer feasible to visualise in a satisfying way as before due to the size of drives and so it doesn’t have to scan the whole drive to produce the graphic?

What defragmenting does is move files that are split physically over different parts of a magnetic disc (in HDD, in general) together, so that when you access that file it can do it reading from the same area instead of having to go back and forth in search for a piece here and a piece there.

in SSD, defragging is simply detrimental – as there’s nothing spinning and no real physical sectors to keep contiguous, the only thing you are doing is wasting memory cells’ writing cycles.

on HDD it is still a thing – it’s just that it doesn’t matter as much for storage, if you access your stuff in a second or in 3. for cases where it does matter, it is still very much a thing.

phones and 99.9% of portable devices don’t use HDD anymore but just use flash memory for storage, and that one you shouldn’t (and in most cases can’t, as explained above) defragment.

To this, you have to add ram quantities. when ram was a couple (let alone less) GB, you can’t keep a lot of stuff in there and you have to keep reading the disc. Nowadays it’s fairly standard for a new pc to have at least 16GB, which makes keeping something there (instead of having to retrieve it from a disk) way easier and faster.

​

I believe these are the reasons why you have stopped defragmenting so much.