Is frequent defragging — and similar hard-drive maintenance — worth any potential extra wear and tear on a drive’s components?
In that ongoing debate, a comparison of the costs and benefits suggests it is.
Is this a case of too much disk maintenance?
Reader George Hernan wrote this thoughtful note about the tradeoffs of frequent hard-drive maintenance — and whether regular drive maintenance imposes extra wear and tear on the hardware.
- “Two drive-related items periodically debated are defragmenting hard drives and backing up data. Whether defragmenting a drive has a significant effect on [PC] operations has been discussed in depth. However, I haven’t seen the issue of drive wear considered. The act of quickly accelerating, moving, and stopping any mechanism causes wear; moving the drive-head arm involves cumulative wear.
“While a lot of head movement is involved in defragmenting, the movement is only once for each file segment. Without defragmenting, multiple moves must be repeated each time a file is accessed. To my mind, this alone makes periodic defragmenting a desirable task (which I perform once a week with Auslogics’ free Disk Defrag [site]). I’m constantly amazed at how many files are fragmented, even though I’m not a power user.
“I use Macrium Reflect Free [site] to back up my partitions to external drives. Because full backups (just 70GB in two partitions) take less than ten minutes and a restore doesn’t take an excessive amount of time, I no longer back up individual files or data; rather, I make a complete backup image of each partition each night. Thus, for the once or twice a year that something goes wrong, I can always recover to a state saved less than 24 hours ago.
“I keep a running library of three weeks’ worth of these daily backups, though I’ve never had occasion to go back more than two days. I do use Windows 7 restore points for the occasional time that my computer doesn’t boot as it should. I also run Windows Backup each night to do a complete image backup, which, as a byproduct, also creates a restore point for me each night.”