Frequency of HD defrags

I recently got a trial for Diskeeper 8.0, a program for auto scheduling defrags, and was surprised to see that most settings were for everyday defragging. Some would defrag continuously when the screensaver went on. I know that typically people recommend defragging every month or so, depending on how much you install/uninstall, etc… Would there be any benefit to more frequent defragging besides not having a slightly defragged drive most of the time? Would there be any potential harm?

No, it will not hurt your HD. You can defrag as often as you or your third party software feel comfortable doing it. Most people do it once a week, or once a month.

I’ll take a little different view of that. I think all that reading and writing could shorten the drives life. And I think very few people need to defrag even once a month. Those who use Windows XP may never need to defrag due to XP’s background optimization function.

(Win XP does have some problems with the assessment of fragmentation when it comes to very large files, but that doesn’t affect most people.)

If you’re using NTFS and have < 80% of your disk used, then I doubt it’s worth defragmenting a disk. NTFS is resistant to the effects of fragmentation.

I’ve got assorted NTFS machines at home and have never defragmented them - they don’t need it.

“I’ve got assorted NTFS machines at home and have never defragmented them - they don’t need it.”

Makes me wonder why MS includes defragging software for them if you don’t need it.

…because, as we all know, MS never includes extraneous software. :wink:

I’m pretty sure that my machine uses NFTS. These programs do find significant fragmentation. Are you saying that the fragmentation doesn’t matter?

The program will only defrags if it needs to. Wouldn’t reading a fragmented disk put more wear than merely defragging on the fly? It would seem like the more you defrag now the less you need to later.

Among other reasons, XP can use FAT32 equally well. FAT32 fragments itself quite nicely.

Of course, my NTFS partitions need defragging as well. Not as much as my FAT32s, now that I think of it, but they’re not immune or anything.

Note that including a defragmenter is a recent innovation in the NT-derived family of operating systems. In NT 4.0 and below, you were expected to use NTFS, and presumably you were expected to not fragment, 'cuz there was no defragmenter.
Now as to why they allowed you to use FAT as your filesystem but chose to include no defragger… well, that’s another story.

It is not true that NTFS does not fragment. The trick is that limited fragmentation does not matter. From memory, 3 extents is about the limit.

I wouldn’t defrag it every day nor do it in the background. I find XP to be pretty good at keeping things in good shape but it depends on how you use your computer. I think I would set it for bi-weekly and leave it.

Your need to defrag depends on how you use the computer, but I have found that WinXP with NTFS eliminates most of the need. As I understand it, WinXP doesn’t do a background defrag per se but tries to optimize the file structure by putting the most commonly accessed files in the fastest access area of the disk. The files get defragged in the process of moving them. Therefore, although the disk may appear to be fragmented, the files you are accessing most of the time are not fragmented.

I only defrag if I have large video files that I intend to play or copy to tape to minimize the challenge on the system since it requires real time access.

Even on my Win98 machines, I only defrag a few times a year and don’t see much of a problem with the new higher speed hard disks.

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The defragger included with Windows XP is a subset of Diskeeper.

You would do well to purchase the full version of Diskeeper 8.0. Not only will it successfuly defrag the Win 9x line, but the NT line as well. I used Diskeeper when NT didn’t have one.

You can also setup Diskeeper to do a boot defrag. It will run CHKDSK, consolidate all your directories (something you could always do with the Win 9x line but not the Win NT line, until now), defrag the pagefile (without having to delete it, defrag and recreate it).
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There may not be a need for some to defrag, if ever. YMMV. At work using Win2000, and a 60GB hard drive, I defrag once a week. Many may see this as excessive, it not downright paranoid. However, you should see my analysis reports. I create / maintain / update so many data files in various formats that there is a noticeable degradation in performance if I do not defrag regularly.

When I defrag XP it shows a pretty picture of my files & after it does its thing, the picture still seems pretty much the same. With 98/ME it would make a nice compact looking picture.

I think it’s important to defrag & clean the registry too.