Did you know a badly fragmented hard drive can crash your PC?
The NTFS file system, part of Windows from early on, continues to fragment upon everyday use, causing performance problems for all machine sizes and types, even those running the latest operating systems — including Windows 10.
Don’t Crash: Do Defrag
In his article, Anatomy of a PC crash: 7 scenarios, and how to avoid them, Alex Cocilova notes drive fragmentation as a cause of a PC crash and how to avoid it:
Fragmented hard drive
Your hard drive can become a bit more fragmented—and unstable—every time you save a file, install a program, or delete something. Not only does this slow down the hard drive, it can also give your OS trouble when trying to find necessary files to function. So your system will eventually give up and try again—with a crash.
Run the Disk Defragmenter in your System Tools every week or so to keep your files straightened out. The process is a pain in the butt while using the PC (you can’t save data to the disk while it defragments), and it can take upwards of an entire day to complete. So set it and forget it before going to bed or work.
While Windows built-in defragmenter is a “pain in the butt,” PerfectDisk is more like a good dream that you don’t want to to wake up from. Not only does PerfectDisk run when your system it idle to enable optimal performance while you’re using your computer, it has numerous benefits over using the basic internal Windows defrag tool:
- Restore Points/VSS: Defrag activity can purge snapshots off a system. By default, PerfectDisk addresses this issue by running in VSS Compatibility Mode with a configurable threshold. The Windows defrag tool has no compatibility mode and will purge your restore point snapshots off a VSS-enabled system.
- Fragmentation Prevention: The OptiWrite feature in PerfectDisk prevents up to 99% of any new file fragmentation, significantly reducing the need to run a defrag pass on a regular basis. The Windows defrag tool has no fragmentation prevention capability and it is more resource intensive than PerfectDisk.
- Administrator Rights: If you allow the Windows tool to run on its default schedule, then this may not be an issue. However, if the OS-scheduled run proves inadequate or the schedule doesn’t run, the end user will not be able to run the Windows defrag tool unless they have Administrator Rights. PerfectDisk does not require the end user to have Administrator Rights to run the product, so they can run it whenever necessary and/or on selected files.
- Scheduling: Just temporarily suspending a Windows defrag schedule is a major undertaking involving Task Scheduler and scripts. With PerfectDisk, you can suspend a schedule on thousands of machines with a few mouse clicks. Run a drive optimization pass daily, weekly, monthly or when it works for you.
- SSD Detection: The Windows defrag tool is supposed to identify and ignore SSD drives. There are instances, however, where Windows misidentifies an SSD and it is defragmented, entailing many unnecessary write I/O’s, with a negative impact on its longevity. With PerfectDisk, SSDs will only be subject to the SSD-safe SSD Optimize pass, which consolidates free space to reduce write amplification on the drive, and doesn’t attempt to defragment files — or the SSD can be ignored altogether.
- Centralized Management/AD: Most large implementations of PerfectDisk use its centralized management console to schedule and manage the software across hundreds or thousands of machines. This allows PerfectDisk to be custom-tailored to each environment with a few clicks. PerfectDisk is also fully integrated with Active Directory and Group Policy for additional management capability, including the ability to restrict access to features within the product. Windows has no central management and is not AD-enabled.
- Flexibility: Users have discovered that PerfectDisk provides a host of different ways they can adapt the software to the situation at hand. Whether it is changing schedules, defragmenting selected files or choosing from different defrag options, the product can be used to obtain the desired result. The Windows defragger is “one size fits few.”
- Much More Than Defrag: Of course, PerfectDisk provides additional capabilities as well, including space management reports, duplicate file finder, file recycler, and S.M.A.R.T. monitoring.
There’s still a superior alternative for defragmentation, fragmentation prevention and overall HDD and SSD optimization than what Microsoft provides with Windows, and that alternative is PerfectDisk.
SSD Performance and Longevity
Cocilova mentions that file defragmentation is unnecessary and even harmful to SSDs, a statement with which we wholeheartedly agree:
One very important note, however: Defragmenting isn’t necessary for solid-state drives. SSDs already store data in a sequential order (as opposed to random order) and can be susceptible to damage if defragmented.
Every write to a solid state drive results in the undesirable action known as “write amplification,” which shortens the life of the drive.
The flash memory of a solid state drive must be erased before it is rewritten, so when you try to write to the SSD, user data and metadata must be rewritten more than once to accomplish the intended write.
The multiplied number of writes and bandwidth consumed by write amplification have two negative consequences:
- Decreases the life of the SSD
- Reduces random write performance
This is why file defragmentation is harmful to the solid state drive.
SSD users should be concerned about the fragmentation of free space. If free space is scattered across the SSD between full blocks of data and trapped within partially full blocks of data, the more places the SSD must look to in order to write to the disk, and the less efficient write operations become.
You can combat the effects of write amplification by keeping free space consolidated on the SSD. Write amplification actually decreases when running TRIM operations to free up disk space, so you want to use the TRIM command to wipe clean unused disk space trapped in partially full blocks of data.
PerfectDisk®‘s SSD Optimize feature, specifically designed for SSDs, automatically eliminates free space fragmentation and consolidates fragmented free space wherever the largest section of contiguous free space exists, whether at the beginning, middle or end of the drive, making for more efficient TRIM operations, reducing writes and extending the life of the drive.
P.S. Of course, if you do encounter a software corruption event, such as a system crash due to a failed system update, failure from any software update, or virus attack, use InstantRecovery or InstantRescue to restore your PC to a trusted state in the time it takes to reboot — even if the system failure renders your computer unbootable!