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How to Defragment a Hard Drive on a Windows 7 PC

Defragmenting is commonly called defragging. No matter what you call it, defragging or defragmenting your hard drive will speed up disk performance. If you haven’t defragmented your PC’s hard drive in a while (or ever), you’re in for a treat. A freshly defragmented hard drive makes your computer seem brand new.

Your PC’s main hard drive is automatically defragmented on a regular schedule when you use Windows 7. Even so, you can manually defragment your hard drive or removable storage media.

In Windows 7, follow these steps to pull a manual defrag of the PC’s main hard drive:

  1. Open the Computer window.

  2. Right-click the media you want to defragment, such as the main hard drive, C.

  3. In the drive’s Properties dialog box, click the Tools tab.

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  4. Click the Defragment Now button.

    The Disk Defragmenter window appears. Rather than plow ahead and potentially waste time defragmenting a drive that doesn’t need it, check the media’s current fragmentation.

  5. Click the Analyze Disk button.

  6. Wait while Windows checks the defragmentation on the media.

    Check the Percent Fragmented value by the disk in the Disk Defragmenter window. If it’s zero, there’s no point in continuing: Skip to Step 8.

    Even when the drive shows 0 percent fragmented files, you can still proceed with defragmentation. No media can be fully defragmented, so the Windows Defragmenter will always find something to do.

  7. Click the Defragment Disk button.

    Windows defragments the media. Sit back and watch, or do something else, though you shouldn’t do anything on your computer while the media is being defragmented.

  8. Click the Close button, and close up any other windows you opened.

You may not notice any drastic improvement in disk performance, especially when the hard drive is frequently defragmented. But if you just defragmented your PC’s hard drive for the first time, prepare to be stunned.

  • You cannot defragment a network drive.

  • Do not defragment a media card or flash drive. These drives have a limited number of “writes” available to them. That is, the media can support data being written to it a finite number of times. This number can be huge, but it’s a real number; after reaching the number, the media becomes useless. By not defragmenting a media card or flash drive, you avoid accelerating the deadline.

  • Optical drives cannot be defragmented.

  • Even after running the Defragmentation utility, file fragments remain on the hard drive. That’s just the nature of disk storage. Please don’t obsess and run the defragmentation utilities over and over, trying to get a perfectly defragmented hard drive.

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