How to defrag your Windows 10 PC

Defragging your drives is one of the best ways to improve the performance of your PC. Windows 10 has an internal tool that will automatically defragment your drives, but if you want to manually defrag or make changes to the optimisation schedule, it can be done in a few easy steps. You may also want to consider installing a third-party tool.

What does defragging do?

The theory behind defragging your hard disk is that it should speed up load times for files. By default, Windows will save files in fragments across the disk. Each time you load a file, it will dynamically rebuild them. A defrag tool will rearrange the data into one place to make it quicker to open.

Note: if your laptop or PC is using an SSD (solid-state disk) then there’s no need to defrag it. SSDs and flash drives have no moving parts. Because of this there’s no need to rearrange data on the drive so that it’s easier for an access arm to reach it.

How to defrag

1.     Open the Start menu on the bottom-left side of the screen, click on the search bar and type in “defrag”. “Defragment and optimize your drives” will pop up. Click on this.

2.     A window will appear with details about your hard disk drive (or drives if you have more than one), along with options to Analyze and Optimize these drives.

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3.     Analysing the drives will tell you how fragmented the drives are, and advise whether or not you need to optimise it.

4.     If you decide to defrag a drive, click “Optimize”. Voilà. This can take anywhere between a few minutes to several hours depending on how fragmented your drive is, but you’ll still be able to use your PC while it’s underway.

5.     If you want to change when scheduled optimisations are due to happen, click on “Change settings”. Here you can modify the frequency as well as which drives are defragged. By default this will happen on a weekly schedule, but there are also options for daily and monthly optimisations.

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How to defrag using a third party tool

The tool we’d recommend for this is Defraggler, from Piriform. You can download a free version of it via the company’s website, or you can cough up $24.95 (£17.50) for a professional version.

Defragger uses the same techniques as Windows’ disk defragmenter tool, but has much more in the way of customisation. 

When you download Defragger for the first time you’ll be given options to add a variety of shortcuts and replace Windows Disk Defragmenter. We’d recommend trying it out before you set it to replace Windows’ own defrag tool.  

Defraggler lets you specify specific folders and files to defragment, and usefully includes an interactive drive map – a visual representation of how much space on your hard drive is free (white boxes), not fragmented (blue) and fragmented (red). This lets you target specific groups of files to defragment. defrag

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