How to defrag your computer

Defragmenting is important to keep your hard drive healthy and your computer up to speed. Learn how to manually defrag your Windows computer.

Most computers have in-built systems to defragment your hard drive on a regular basis. Over time, however, these processes can break down and may not work as effectively as they used to.

It's always a good idea to keep an eye on your files and take action when urgent defragging is required. Read on to discover how to defragment your PC.

How to defragment a Windows computer

The process of defragmenting on different versions of Windows (7, 8 and 10) is mostly identical. The main difference is what the defragmenter tool is called and where it can be found.

Open the defragment tool

  • If you are using Windows 7, you can find the disk defragmenter tool in Control Panel > System and Security> Administrative tools > Defragment your hard drive.
  • To defrag a computer in Windows 10 or 8, open the Windows start menu by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard (normally between CTRL and ALT) or by pressing the Windows icon on your taskbar (normally on the bottom left of your screen). Type in ‘defragment’ and a search result called ‘Defragment and Optimise Drives’ will show up. Click on it.

  • Once the Windows defragment tool is open, select the drive you would like to defragment first, and click ‘Analyze’.

  • After the analysis is complete, you will see what percentage of the drive is fragmented under ‘Current status.’ If the drive is more than 10% fragmented, it is definitely time for a defrag.

  • Click ‘Optimize’ to defragment your hard drive. The more defragmented your drive is the longer the process takes, so if you haven’t defragmented in a while you might want to leave this running overnight or while you’re going to be away from your PC.

  • Once the process is finished, you can simply close the Disk Defragmenter tool.

Be aware that if your PC loses power in the middle of a defrag, it can cause major problems like file corruption. If you are using a laptop, make sure to plug it in to a power source before defragging a hard drive in Windows.

Other ways to defrag your computer

While Windows is supposed to automatically run the defragmenting tool on a regular basis, many people still find their PC suffering from a fragmented hard drive. The defrag schedule can break for a variety of reasons - it tries to run when you’re not on your PC but can be interrupted by things like screensavers or other programs ‘waking’ your PC.

If you shut off your computer whenever you’re not using it – which is smart for saving electricity – Windows will struggle to find time to run the defragmentation process. It may also find it hard to defrag when your hard drive reaches close to full capacity, as there is little space left around for it to work with.

To make sure that your computer is always running at optimum performance, the best way to defragment your hard drive is by using a tool that makes sure your drive is defragged when required. CCleaner’s Defraggler tool can be used to defragment your computer on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, and it also offers some advanced features like the option to run from a USB drive.

When to defragment your computer

There are a few signs that will tell you it’s time to defrag your PC. The most common ones are:

  • Files taking a longer time to load than normal 
  • Games taking a long time to load new environments
  • Your computer generally running slowly
  • Hearing your hard drive constantly whirring into action

If you want to know more about why a fragmented hard drive slows down your computer and how defragging fixes it, read our article on what defragging does and why it’s worth it.

We hope that helps! If you have any comments, please tweet us. We're @Piriform.


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