How to defrag a hard drive

Defragmenting your hard drive used to be something you had to do regularly to keep your PC in top condition. Technology has moved on however and it's not quite as essential as it once was. Regardless, it's still a good idea to do it from time to time and we're going to show you how.

Now, with modern SSHDs, the advantages of defragging are questionable and in the case of SSDs, inappropriate. We’ll explain what defragging is, the benefits, and how to get it done on Windows 7, 8, and 10.

In basic terms, defragmenting is exactly what it sounds like: it's an undoing of the fact that data gets fragmented across your hard drive. Over time as files are saved, resaved, or deleted on your drive, small packets of information end up deposited in random places all over the disk rather than all together.

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On a traditional spinning hard drive, these files take longer to find as the read head has to move to multiple positions on the disk rather than being able to read the data in consecutive sectors. 

Defragmenting means that files are put back together in one place. The data is effectively compacted as the operating system removes the gaps between files. This in turn should improve the speed of your PC or laptop, even if it does so by only a marginal amount.