Frag and Defrag

Frag: Verb To deliberately kill (one’s superior officer) with a fragmentation grenade.

We’re not talking about that.

Fragmentation: Noun (Computing) The breaking up and dispersal of a file into non-contiguous areas of a disk.

In English, Please? Sure. Fragmentation, in computer terms, is the digital equivalent of what happens in a filing cabinet over time. Files get stuck in the wrong folders, the folders are no longer arranged alphabetically, some files are not even in folders anymore, and some wind up wadded up in the bottom of the drawer. Note: I am not talking about the files and folders you see on your screen (Although you should organize those, too). I’m talking about what goes on behind the screen.

When a filing cabinet is messed up, all the files are still there, but it takes longer to find them because they are not where you expect to find them. Same with a computer. A file may actually be broken up into several pieces scattered across the hard drive (Because the computer will put them wherever they fit), and the computer then has to work harder to find them all. This slows down performance. Which brings us to:

Defragment: Verb (Computing) To run a process that collects fragments of files and sorts them into contiguous sections on a hard disk, thus speeding up file management.

Because computers are such slobs this way, all Windows computers have a Defragmenting (Defragging for short) tool built in. The tool built into Windows does an okay, but not great, job of defragging the disk. Fortunately, there are some very good third-party defragging tools available. They are better because they are often faster, and they can perform their duties even while you are using the computer.

The built-in tool often re-starts itself from the beginning whenever you do anything, and sometimes all by itself. This takes an unconscionably long time. Also the add-on programs can often be set up to shut down or sleep the computer when they are done.

One of the programs that I like a lot is Auslogics disk defragger. It’s a free download, and works much better than the built-in Windows tool. More info here.

Defragging should be done periodically; I do it about once a month. You can do it as often as you want, but do it. For more information on computer maintenance:

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