How To Properly Maintain Hard Drives with Defraggler

If you read our earlier article about tuning up your PC with CCleaner, then you already know about the high calibre of software that is developed by Piriform.  I’m definitely a big fan of the CCleaner product.  I’m sure you can guess that it was a no brainer that when Piriform released their next masterpiece, I just had to try it out!

Enter Defraggler, a powerful and easy-to-use defragmentation tool for your Windows managed hard drives.  This defrag tool really sets itself apart from it’s competitors by being a quality product with the perfect price tag – free.  This tutorial will give you a nice overview of the Defraggler tool, as well as provide you with the necessary knowledge to use it effectively on your home computer.

First off, lets get to the meat and potatoes.  Why do you need to defrag?  Simply put, your Windows file system frequently fragments it’s file system by placing pieces of each file that it writes to disk into the first available spots.

The result is an increase in the time it takes to access a file, because the file can be cut into pieces and spread about the physical disk.  By defragging your disks, files are relocated so that all of the pieces are in the correct order and placed next to one another.  Defragging can easily extend the live or your hard disks and improve system performance.

Install Defraggler

You can get started by downloading and installing the latest edition of Defraggler.  I won’t bore you with the details of the installation, because it is incredibly straight forward.  I strongly encourage you to keep all of the default settings when you install the application, it will make things a whole lot easier.

Launch Defraggler

You can launch Defraggler from the desktop icon or the Start Menu.  Once open, you’ll be presented with the main window, as shown below.

Defraggler Main Window

Analyze

As you can see, it’s very straight-forward.  Start by selecting the disk you want to perform maintenance on in the upper portion of the window.  Next, click the Analyze button to have Defraggler assess the current condition of the file system on the selected drive.

This shouldn’t take very long to process.  Once complete, you’ll see a report similar to the following screenshot.

defraggler analysis complete

Defrag

You can click the View Files button, if you are interested in seeing which files are actually strewn about the drive.  That step is only for interest sake and has no impact on the defrag process.  To start the process, click on the Defrag button.

Depending on the size of your drive, the amount stored on it, and the amount of time since the last defrag, this process could take a considerable amount of time to complete.  It’s also resource intensive, so don’t start this task while you have a lot of work to do.

Save it for when you might have some downtime and can afford to be away from the computer for an hour or more.  Mine didn’t take very long to complete, only about 15 – 20 minutes.  Here’s a sample of the report you can expect to see once the job is done.

defraggler defrag complete

That’s it.  Pretty simple stuff.

You should repeat this process for each drive on your system.  You can even defragment your portable USB drives.  Even though you have done a great service for your PC, you’re not done yet.  Performing a defrag is a great step in the right direction, but to properly manage your system you need to defrag on a regular basis.  Defraggler can help!

Scheduled Maintenance

Clicking on the Settings menu, then Options, will open up the main Options dialog box.  Click the Schedule tab to set up a schedule that works for you.

defraggler schedule 1

Select the drive that you want to schedule maintenance for via the Drive dropdown list.  A good place to start is Local Disk (C:).  Next place a checkmark in the checkbox labelled Schedule defragmentation for chosen volume.  This will activate the lower options, allowing you to specify an interval.  This part is personal preference, but I prefer to defrag my drives on a weekly basis.  For most users, this will be acceptable.

Now you just have to pick a starting date and time.  Do yourself a favor and select a time when the system will not be in high demand from it’s user(s).  If you have more than one drive, repeat the process by selecting a different drive from the dropdown list and follow the steps you followed for the first drive.

As you can see in the pictures below, I staggered the days that my drives are defragmented, mainly because of the resource requirements to get the job done.

defraggler schedule 2 defraggler schedule 3

Just click Ok and your system will do the rest.

There are some advanced components that come with Defraggler and one of them is to check the drive for errors.  You can access this utility via the Action menu.

defraggler check errors

Checking for errors can take a significant amount of time.  In fact, I’ve seen it take a couple of hours to actually finish, so don’t start this task unless you have plenty of time to kill.

Summary

Defraggler is an important addition to your PC toolkit.  The benefits of learning to use this tool will definitely be seen through extended hard drive life and improved file access performance.  It’s easy to use, free to download, and you can set it and forget it.

If you run into any problems, Piriform provides a great support forum that represents a community of help resources.