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(tool, file system)
/dee-frag(-ment)'/ (Or "defrag") To coalesce files and free space on a file system; to reduce fragmentation.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


To reorganize the disk by putting files into contiguous order. Because the operating system stores new data in whatever free space is available, data files become spread out across the disk as they are updated. Large files may be broken into thousands of fragments, causing the read/write head to move back and forth numerous extra times to read the data. A "defragger" or "optimizer program" rewrites all the files and stores them in adjacent sectors.

Windows comes with the DEFRAG.EXE utility, which can be activated by the Run dialog from the Start menu. Other popular defraggers, such as Diskeeper, offer enhanced capabilities.

Users Run the Gamut
Some users are fanatical about defragging their disks on a regular basis. Others rarely do it, if ever. After defragmenting, performance increases are most noticeable on very large databases that had been heavily fragmented. Because today's computers are so fast, users may not notice any increase in speed with routine applications such as word processing and spreadsheets, especially if the files are small.

A Good Habit
Nevertheless, defragmenting disks regularly is good practice because it reduces wear and tear on the drive mechanism. In addition, should the hard disk ever crash and you did not back up important files, data recovery experts will tell you that a defragged disk is much easier to restore.

Before and After
This Diskeeper example shows the fragmented files (in red) before defragging and the results below. Diskeeper can be set up to defrag the disk whenever the machine is idle. As soon as the user clicks the mouse or presses a key, the defragging is suspended.
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References in periodicals archive ?
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We ran each set of tests for three iterations, and then defragmented the storage using Diskeeper to reduce or eliminate the disk fragmentation.
On a computer with a typical amount of file storage on a fragmented disk, for example, it took 68% longer to search email text matches, 90% longer to retrieve ten Web pages in a Microsoft Internet Explorer cache, and 123% longer to scan for spyware than on a defragmented disk.
If the last time you defragmented your hard drive it took your entire lunch time and then continued into the afternoon, you need Diskeeper 10 from Diskeeper Corporation.
Reports can be generated for any system being defragmented and real-time status alerts in HTML or plain-text format can be e-mailed to administrators.
Can Diskeeper keep you defragmented? I tried it on several computers and results varied, apparently due to how the computer is used, the size and nature of the files, and the version of Windows and disk formatting (see the online article for details).
Q227350 explains that certain system files can only be defragmented safely during boot time.
Q I SAW a message on my screen saying the c drive was being defragmented. I stopped it.