What is file fragmentation and how it occurs in Windows

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What is file fragmentation

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Suppose you created a Word document and entered two words before clicking the Save button. Windows will find just enough space for these two words (with a little padding) and save it. Later, you add more words to the document. Windows attempts to place these additional words in the room it originally added to the saved document.

But Windows does not know how many more words you would add to the document. Once the extra space at the end of the file is covered, it is time for Windows to find the free space beyond this filling and add the extra file to another sector on the hard disk – probably on a different track or disk.

In short, when you save, modify or delete files, there is fragmentation. Changes you can make to a file are often saved in another location. More changes are saved in even more places. Over time, the file and the hard disk itself become fragmented, and your computer may slow down a bit because it has to search many different places to open a single file.

Having understood this, let’s see how Microsoft has improved the defragmenter to handle this problem and allow better and easier hard disk defragmentation.

Windows Defragmentation – Improvements

The Windows defragmenter used too much memory and CPU resources up to Windows XP. We knew that if you were using Windows Defragmenter on Windows XP or earlier, you had to wait until it was ready before you could do anything else on that computer. Although system software that defragments the native hard disk too much memory and CPU – an overhead resource you would never want.

With the increase in hard disk size and with the majority of people moving away to use third-party disk defragmenters, Microsoft has created a better Windows Vista defragmenter – and further improved it in Windows 7 | 8 . The new Windows Defragmenter has been completely redesigned, and you’ll find it’s unexpectedly fast. It also works in the background when your computer is idle and does not block your computer’s resources.

Another improvement that comes with Windows 7 or Vista is that the operating system searches the largest infectious free space before saving a file on which you are working. This means that it tries to avoid fragmentation in two ways:

  1. Find a relatively large part of the free space
  2. Insert at the end of the file

Defragmentation now also contains two important phases :

  1. Find free space and move entire fragmented files to store all parts in adjacent tracks and sectors.
  2. Collect free space to make it easier for Windows to store fragmented files in the future.

(I hope this will help you understand why defragmentation takes place in Windows and how you can use Windows defragmentation to avoid defragmentation.

Additional readings on this topic:

  1. Windows defragmentation program troubleshooting

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