How to Defragment Your Hard Drive on Windows 10

Windows 10 optimization and defragmentation icon

Over time, a hard drive may start to function less efficiently due to the fragmentation of the file system. To speed up your drive, you can defragment and optimize it in Windows 10 using a built-in tool. Here’s how.

What is defragmentation?

Over time, the blocks of data (fragments) that make up files can scatter in several places around the surface of the hard drive. This is called fragmentation. Defragmentation moves all of these blocks so they are located close to each other in physical space, potentially speeding up read times when accessing data on disk. However, with modern computers, defragmentation is no longer the necessity it once was. Windows automatically defragments mechanical disks and defragmentation is not necessary with SSD disks.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to make your drives work as efficiently as possible. You may also need to defragment external hard drives connected via USB, as they may not be plugged in when Windows performs its automatic defragmentation.

RELATED: Do I really need to defragment my PC?

How to defragment your hard drive on Windows 10

First, press the Windows key or click on the search box on your taskbar and type “defragment”. Click the shortcut “Defragment and optimize your disks” in the Start menu.

Launch Disk Defragmenter from Windows 10 Start Menu

The Optimize Drives window appears and lists all the drives on your system that can be optimized and defragmented. If one of your discs does not appear, it may be because Windows 10 can only optimize discs formatted in the NTFS file system. ExFAT format discs will not appear in the list.

RELATED: What is the difference between FAT32, exFAT and NTFS?

A list of readers in the Windows 10 optimization and defragmentation tool

Select the drive you want to defragment from the list, then click “Optimize”.

On a hard drive, this performs a defragmentation routine. On SSDs, there execute a TRIM command, which can potentially speed up the operation of your player, but is not really necessary like Windows does in the background with modern drives.

A list of readers in the Windows 10 optimization and defragmentation tool

If the drive needs to be optimized and defragmented, the process will begin. You will see a percentage progress indicator in the Current Status column.

Optimization and defragmentation status in Windows 10

When the process is complete, the time in the Last Execution column will be updated and the current status will display something similar to “OK (0% fragmented)”.

Optimization and defragmentation process completed in Windows 10

Congratulations, your drive has been successfully defragmented. If desired, you can schedule regular defragmentation sessions in the Optimize Drives window by clicking the “Activate” button in the “Scheduled Optimization” section. That way you won’t have to remember to do it manually in the future.

Do not hesitate to close the Optimize readers window and use your computer as usual. Do not be surprised if you feel a little extra spring in the step of your computer.

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