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Here's How Often You Should Defrag Your Computer
Fragmentation is when an OS saves a file to the disk by breaking it up into pieces and saving them separately — but, as the hard drive fills up, individual bits are often stored farther apart, resulting in the OS taking longer to find the pieces to reassemble. Defragging a hard drive optimizes how the space is used, placing the bits closer together and reducing the OS’ workload.
MacOS version 10.2.2 introduced HFS+, a filesystem with a journaling feature keeping track of changes made to the file system and grouping data together — whereas version 10.3 introduced methods that make defragmentation automated. While many versions of Windows have had a defragmentation tool to schedule the process to run automatically, Windows 10 introduced automated optimization, meaning it is turned on by default.
Since many users don't leave their computers on 24/7, the time-consuming process of defragmentation is often interrupted before completion. However, you should not defrag a solid-state drive, as it provides improved performance over a traditional hard drive, gaining very little from defragmentation, and the process also shortens its lifespan (measured in the number of reads and writes it can perform) by using up extra reads/writes rearranging the files.
Defragging standard hard drives, on the other hand, depends on how you use the computer. If you leave your machine on all the time, the built-in optimization tools in macOS and Windows may negate the need to manually defrag, but if you routinely shut down your machine after every use, you should probably run a defragmentation utility once a month.