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Why You Should Defrag Your Hard Drive

I more then likely average about 3 to 4 calls a day from people who have formatted and reinstalled their operating system. Usually by using the manufactures (i.e. Dell) system restore feature, not realizing that this will bring the machine back to the way it was when purchased. All of the data that was on this drive now seems to be gone forever.But this is not the case; most of the data should still be fairly intact. You will have to use what is called a file harvester, or raw data scan, piece of software in order to find these files. The way these pieces of software work, is they start at the beginning of a hard drive and begin to scan looking for unique file header information. These file headers, are unique to the type of file (i.e. JPG is FF D8 FF E0) and therefore the software can try to “piece” the drive back together. If you have defragged your hard disk recently there is a much higher recovery rate because there will be no trash data in your file. If you have not defragged, the likelihood of recovery diminishes greatly, because the software you are using can not tell where a file starts and ends, if it is fragmented.

So I still have not explained what Defragging does. In a perfect world when we wrote data to our drive we would never delete it, but that is just not the case. As we delete files and add files there is “empty” spaces left on our hard drives. These spaces have actual data in them but it is no longer part of any file. As we go forward with normal pc use, we continue to cause the drive to be fragmented and not contiguous. Running Windows defrag on a weekly basis will up the performance of your machine, free space on your hard disk, and leave you in a better data recovery situation should that happen to you. Windows Defrag will move your files around to make them contiguous and therefore more easily accessed by Windows. You can schedule a weekly defrag by following the directions below.

How To Schedule a Weekly Defrag:

Click on the Start Menu and go to the control panel.

Now click on Performance and Maintenance

Once in that screen click on the Scheduled Tasks option

Now double click on Add Scheduled Task

Then Click Next

Click Browse, and now let’s go to the windows/system32 folder, and select defrag.exe, and click Open

Now use the wizard to set a schedule for when to run the defrag.exe program.

When you are asked for your password be sure to enter it, and click next.

Check Open advanced properties for this task when I click Finish box, and then click finished.

The following window will pop up.

In the RUN text box add the drive you are wishing to run Defrag on, in most cases this will be C:, to the end of the line.

Click ok and your computer should run defrag on your main hard drive once a week! This will make it better for anyone who might need to perform hard drive data recovery on your hard drive.

6 Responses to “Why You Should Defrag Your Hard Drive”

  1. laster October 18, 2007 6:04 am #

    Makes sense. Its easier and faster to simply find things in a closet or shelf if they are organized and placed next to each other. It would definitely be a huge strain on the HDD being mechanical in nature to access files that are fragmented.

  2. Wayne October 21, 2007 3:24 am #

    Very Good, Concise instructions.
    How often will you be posting these types of tips?

  3. Davedata99 October 22, 2007 10:53 am #

    Cetainly, good info should you need to perform data recovery.

  4. manny June 4, 2008 12:47 pm #

    i just defrag my hard drive last week, and when i checked my email using ms outlook 2003, my archive.pst is gone? can i still recover it? or did defragmentation affect my emails? thanks

  5. Dave June 16, 2008 10:54 am #

    The defrag option does not delete data. ChkDsk does have ability to delete data. If you have bad sectors chkdsk may have ran to try to fix any errors it may have found.

  6. Larry Fries September 26, 2009 1:29 pm #


    Enjoy you articles very much thanks for the clear instructions and pictures.

    I have a new computer and want to give the old one away, can you tell me what i should do to delete all of the files in the computer. I would like to delete everything thats on the hard drive. The windows XP system 32 is messed up and would like to delete it also.

    Thanks for your help!!!


    Larry Fries

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