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Hard Drive Problems/Understanding the info re: the hard drive



My question isn't so much about the hard drive but the information I receive from it and my understanding of it.

Until quite recently I allowed myself to rely completely on the Windows Defrag Tool and in my usual maintenance I ran checks to assess their condition and was satisfied when the results showed I could leave them alone.

Relatively recently though I thought I'd install the freeware program Defraggler and I was amazed at the different information I was given about the fragmented files on each of my drives.

But my confusion has risen to new heights now, now that I'm defragging a particular drive of mine. Defraggler shows me that the condition of the drive is good but I'm having difficulty understanding defragging in general and this drive in particular.

It is a large drive - 3tb - and I've partitioned it into several volumes. The size of the one I'm concerned about is 2.3tb in size and contains all my films.

I ran Defraggler and analyzed each drive in turn all returning zero fragmentation except for this one which returned a one per cent fragmented result and trying to keep them all healthy started to defrag it only to realise that during the process it now states that the defragmentation would take over a day to complete.

In effect it took longer than that and when it got down to one minute left to completion I felt I could reboot the comp to complete a job I'd started quite some time previously.

My problem came when having rebooted the comp I opened Defraggler again to fully complete its mission only to see that it'd take a further 24 hours to complete.

Now I have no problem with keeping the computer running for this length of time if it's to its benefit, my problem is my understanding of the process.

In a nutshell how can the defragmentation be initially only one per cent yet after well over 24 hours of running it still needs another 24 hours to run before it's satisfactorily defragmented and quite possibly further time after this session?

If it's of any importance I'm running Windows 7 Home Premium

As a footnote I'm still not happy about not being able to defrag my newly-acquired HSS drive. I'm told I shouldn't defrag it and I haven't but I feel guilty and I'd prefer to.

Hi Dave!

Whether you "should" or "shouldn't" defrag depends on whether you have a real SSD (Solid State Drive) or a fake SSD (hybrid - don't get me wrong, their performance is MUCH improved over a standard HDD, but there is a substantial difference). On [most] Hybrid drives, the SSD part doesn't actually hold data - it is only used as cache. It provides a good boost, but the data part of the drive should actually be treated as a regular HDD.

There are two reasons you don't defrag real SSD's:

- Each storage "cell" has a limited life, and cannot be written/re-written indefinitely - eventually, the cell can't be used anymore and is disabled. The more unnecessary writing that is done, the more the lifetime of a cell is depleted. Now, cells are much more resilient than manufacturer's are allowed to say (it is random and unpredictable), so they typically recommend against anything that overtaxes the drive. Defrag, hibernation, and page files (yes, page files, but if you don't keep your page file on the SSD, it isn't worth using, so it typically stays on it).

- It is unnecessary. With a spinning/platter drive, the read head must wait until the expected location spins around and wait until it is positioned to read the data, so it advantageous to have all the parts of a file - all the needed data - in sequential order, or so that the platter or head has to travel as little as possible between parts. On an SSD, there is no waiting, regardless of where the next piece of data is, the drive can simply read the data from that location, making defragmentation of files an unnecessary strain on the drive itself for no return on that investment.

So, if you have a hybrid drive, chances are you still should defrag. Is it possible to do a more "thorough" defrag than Windows does? Probably, but I have never felt it necessary to use third-party utilities (for defragging, registry cleaning, and optimization) to keep a system running smoothly. Windows 7+ will use idle time to do "necessary" degfragging on traditional HDD's.

If you have further questions, feel free to follow up.

Good luck!

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I can answer questions about server hardware RAID and general storage for servers and PC's - hard drive issues, troubleshooting, advice, specs, and information. While some apparent drive/RAID array failures can be recovered, I can only provide advice/recommendations in the event of catastrophic data loss. I don't assist in actually recovering from this type of data loss on this forum.


I worked as an analyst in Dell server support for 2 years, and have since worked with many Dell PowerEdge servers. I am currently employed as IT Manager. I am currently ranked in the top 5 All-Time in Server Hardware and Hard Drives in a very popular and large forum similar to AllExperts.

I have a BS in Computer Science and have earned the following certifications: CompTIA Security+, A+, Project+; CIW Web Design, Database Specialist; Microsoft Windows 7; Dell DCSE Server. I am also an expert in Windows 7, Servers, and Hard Drives (I don't normally do XP - not because I don't know it inside and out, but because I have "retired" personal support for XP, and I want to see it die :)).

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