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How to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows 10

Updated August 17, 2020

Have you ever tried to find a file in a disorganized filing cabinet? It can take some time. The same thing can happen when your computer's drive becomes fragmented. But you can keep all of the folders and files on your computer organized with regular defragmentation. Here's how to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows 10.

How to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows 10

There are two (2) types of drives used in computers, Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and Solid State Drive (SSD). The kind of drive you have determines whether you need (or want) to defragment and optimize it. To find out what type of drive(s) you have, follow the standard instructions below. The Optimize Drives screen will tell you what kind of drive(s) you currently have in your computer.

The issue of drive fragmentation stemmed from the early '80s when Microsoft needed an OS, and they bought Quick and Dirty Operating System (QDOS) and renamed it MS-DOS. At that time, HDDs were the only type of drive available, and they are still the de facto standard in the industry. And they do need to be defragmented and optimized regularly.

Now SSD's are different in that there are no moving parts inside, just memory chips. So when your computer reads and writes to it, the data is going back to the same location on the drive. You can defrag and optimize an SSD, but it is not recommended since SSDs have limited read/write cycles, and any program that intensively accesses the SSD could shorten the life span of the drive. Microsoft started adding support for SSDs in Windows 7 / Windows Server 2008 with the Trim command. Since the low-level operation of SSDs differs from HDDs, the Trim command handles deletes/format requests.

You can verify Trim is enabled by typing the following into an Administrative Command Prompt:

fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify

If the command returns a 0, then Trim is enabled. If it returns a 1, then it is not. To enable Trim, type the following into the Administrative Command Prompt:

fsutil behavior set DisableDeleteNotify 0

Standard drive defragment and optimization in Windows 10

standard drive defragment and optimization in Windows 10

  1. Bring up the Defragment and Optimize Drives application by:
    1. Left-click on the Start Windows logo button.
    2. Scroll down to Windows Administrative Tools and left-click to expand.
    3. Left-click on Defragment and Optimize Drives.

    or

    1. Open File Explorer by left-clicking the File Explorer icon (the manilla folder) on the Taskbar.
    2. In the left-side column, left-click on This PC.
    3. In the right-side column right-click on the drive you want to check and select Properties.
    4. Left-click on the Tools tab.
    5. Under Optimize and defragment drive left-click on Optimize.

    then

  2. Left-click on the drive(s) you want to optimize.
  3. Left-click on Analyze (Analyze all) or Optimize (Optimize all)

Advanced drive defragment and optimization in Windows 10

advanced drive defragment and optimization in Windows 10

  1. Open a Command Prompt with Administrative privileges (click here for instructions)
  2. Use the following command line syntax(s) and parameter(s) to run DEFRAG:

defrag <volumes> | /C | /E <volumes> [<task(s)>] [/H] [/M [n] | [/U] [/V]] [/I n]
Where <task(s)> is omitted (traditional defrag), or as follows: /A | [/D] [/K] [/L] | /O | /X
Or, to track an operation already in progress on a volume: defrag <volume> /T

Examples:
defrag C: /U /V
defrag C: D: /M
defrag C:\mountpoint /A /U
defrag /C /H /V

Value Description
/A Perform analysis on the specified volumes.
/C Perform the operation on all volumes.
/D Perform traditional defrag (this is the default).
/E Perform the operation on all volumes except those specified.
/H Run the operation at normal priority (default is low).
/I n Tier optimization would run for at most n seconds on each volume.
/K Perform slab consolidation on the specified volumes.
/L Perform retrim on the specified volumes.
/M n Run the operation on each volume in parallel in the background. At most n threads optimize the storage tiers in parallel.
/O Perform the proper optimization for each media type.
/T Track an operation already in progress on the specified volume.
/U Print the progress of the operation on the screen.
/V Print verbose output containing the fragmentation statistics.
/X Perform free space consolidation on the specified volumes.

Perform advanced disk defragmentation with Defraggler from Piriform

Have you ever opened a filing cabinet just to find the folders just scattered around? The files are all over the place, and you cannot find what you're looking for. The same thing can happen to the folders/files on your Windows based computer. Windows does come with a disk defrag program, but its options are minimal. If you're looking for something more in a disk defrag program, check out Defraggler by Piriform.

Drive view inside of Defraggler
Drive view inside of Defraggler

With Defraggler, you can do much more than just defragment your hard drive. You can do a quick or full defrag, defrag only free space, and my favorite, boot-time defrag. And it uses the same technology as Windows built-in defragmenter to read and write files. You can even have the option to replace the Windows built-in defrag program with Defraggler.

Block detail view inside of Defraggler
Block detail view inside of Defraggler

Defraggler also has something that has been missing from Windows built-in defragmenter for years, a drive map showing the status of files on your hard drive. And what is cool is that you can left-click on a block, and Defraggler will tell you what file(s) are located in it. And best of all, it's free. Here's a quote from the Piriform website:

Defragment exactly what you want
Most defrag tools only allow you to defrag an entire drive. Defraggler lets you specify one or more files, folders, or the whole drive to defragment.

Safe and Secure
When Defraggler reads or writes a file, it uses the exact same techniques that Windows uses. Using Defraggler is just as safe for your files as using Windows.

Compact and portable
Defraggler's tough on your files – and light on your system.

Interactive drive map
At a glance, you can see how fragmented your hard drive is. Defraggler's drive map shows you blocks that are empty, not fragmented, or needing defragmentation.

Quick Defrag
Give your hard drive a quick touch-up with Quick Defrag.

Defragment free space
Organizes empty disk space to further prevent fragmentation.

Scheduled defragmentation
Defragment while you sleep - and wake up with a faster PC. Set Defraggler to run daily, weekly or monthly.

Multi-lingual support
No matter what your native tongue is, Defraggler speaks your language. It currently supports 37 languages.

For more information on Defraggler, just follow the link below:

Defraggler - File and Disk Defragmentation

Defragment and Optimize your hard drive in Windows 8

Have you ever opened a filing cabinet and couldn't find the file or folder you were looking for? The same thing can happen to your computer when your hard drive becomes fragmented. To keep all of your files in the right place, optimizing your hard drive regularly is highly recommended. You can do this with Windows 8 built-in hard drive optimizing utility, Defragment and Optimize Drives.

Standard hard drive optimization in Windows 8

  1. Go to the Start menu.
  2. Right-click the Start menu background to bring up the app commands.
  3. Select 'All apps'.
  4. Scroll to the 'File Explorer' tile and left-click on it.
  5. Left-click on 'Computer'.
  6. Right-click the hard drive that you want to optimize, and then click 'Properties'.
  7. Click the 'Tools' tab, and then, under 'Optimize and defragment drive', click 'Optimize'.
  8. Select the drive you want to defrag and click on 'Optimize'.

Or

  1. Go to the Start menu.
  2. Right-click the Start menu background to bring up the app commands.
  3. Select 'All apps'.
  4. Scroll to the 'Control Panel' tile and left-click on it.
  5. On the upper right side of the Control Panel, there is a 'View by:' pull-down menu (the default is Category). Left-click on the arrow to the right and select either 'Large icons' or 'Small icons'.
  6. Left-click on 'Administrative Tools'.
  7. Double left-click 'Defragment and Optimize Drives'.
  8. Select the drive you want to optimize and click on 'Optimize'.

Advanced hard drive optimization in Windows 8

  1. Open a Command Prompt with Administrative privileges (click here for instructions)
  2. Use the following command-line syntax(s) and parameter(s) to run DEFRAG:

DEFRAG <volumes> | /C | /E <volumes> [<task(s)>] [/H] [/M | [/U] [/V]]

Where <task(s)> is omitted (traditional defrag), or as follows: /A | [/D] [/K] [/L] | /O | /X

Or, to track an operation already in progress on a volume:
DEFRAG <volume> /T

Value Description
/A Perform analysis on the specified volumes.
/C Perform the operation on all volumes.
/D Perform traditional defrag (this is the default).
/E Perform the operation on all volumes except those specified.
/H Run the operation at normal priority (default is low).
/K Perform slab consolidation on the specified volumes.
/L Perform retrim on the specified volumes.
/M Run the operation on each volume in parallel in the background.
/O Perform the proper optimization for each media type.
/T Track an operation already in progress on the specified volume.
/U Print the progress of the operation on the screen.
/V Print verbose output containing the fragmentation statistics.
/X Perform free space consolidation on the specified volumes.

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