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Windows 7: Defragmenting large drives?

15 Oct 2017   #1
martinlest

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit
 
 
Defragmenting large drives?

In the days when drives were measured in Gigabytes, a full defrag was do-able, lasting an hour or two, or sometimes overnight. But what do folks do with larger drives these days? I have a drive with getting on for 2TBs of data on it. I imagine my PC will run for days trying to defrag that... (It's not too bad as yet - 11% fragmented, apparently, but that figure won't get better of course).

The drive contains terrain data (Ortho4XP) for X-Plane 11 (flight simulator) and as such is regularly read by X-Plane. There tens of thousands of files, about 10MBs each. Clearly if the drive (here an external USB HDD) gets too fragmented, reading of the files and performance will be affected.

Any suggestions for a quick, painless defrag? I have been Googling but not sure whether I am reading hyperbole or the truth a lot of the time about various applications' abilities.

One method recommended as 'best' is to copy all the data to another drive, format the original and then copy it all back again. I do have a second 2TB drive onto which I back up all the terrain data, so that would be feasible, as I already have the copy. But would that produce a fully unfragmented result? Can't decide if that would be the 'best' method or not...

I used to defragment my drives regularly, but now that my HDDs are so large, and the rest of my drives are SSDs, I have lost the habit: things may have moved on in the meantime, technologically speaking! (Is defragging all that data actually safe, hardware-wise, BTW? Or even strictly necessary with NTFS??).

Thanks.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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15 Oct 2017   #2
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Assuming you are using Win 7, just use Win 7's built-in defrag. I've defragged 4TB drives using it and I don't know how long it took because I set it to automatically defrag the one 4TB and two 2TB drives I had in my computer every Wednesday morning at 2:30AM and it would be finished by morning. Even 11% defragmentation on a 2TB drive shouldn't take very long.

Two caveats: You must have at least 10-15% free space or it may take a ridiculous amount of time to defrag the drive, if it can be defragged at all. Also, do not use a third party defragger. Some may work better than Win 7's defragger but at the cost of taking far longer (some that worked well with XP do not work well with Win 7, such as Defraggler). Even if they do work better, Win 7's defragger will keep the percentage of fragmentation well below 10% (10% is consider to be the threshold for needing defragging).
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15 Oct 2017   #3
dsperber

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)
 
 

May be a relatively expensive workaround, but if fragmentation and access/performance is really of so much concern, how about going with a large SSD rather than HDD spinner?

SSD drives never require defrag.

Ordinary SATA SSD drives are are substantially faster than HDD spinner, and new PCIe NVMe drives are HUGELY faster than HDD spinner.
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15 Oct 2017   #4
Layback Bear

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1
 
 

Years ago when I did use hard drives, I tested many defrag programs.
End results was the built in Windows 7 defrag program worked as well as 3rd party defrag programs.

My thoughts are, Windows 7 defrag puts thing where Windows 7 wants them. Not where some 3rd party programs wants them. Because Windows 7 is the thing looking for things on your drive, it adds up to me.

Jack
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16 Oct 2017   #5
martinlest

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit
 
 

Thanks for the comments. Yes, maybe Windows 7 own defragmenter is as good as any. I remember that I have a copy of MyDefrag somewhere (must be an old version by now) - it has a quick defrag option as far as I recall?

May be a relatively expensive workaround...

A 2TB SSD is about 500-600, which I think would be a bit daft (unless money were no object, which, sadly, it is!)
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16 Oct 2017   #6
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Again, stick with Windows 7 defragger. Set to automatically check and defrag once a week at a time that's convenient for you, then forget about it.
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16 Oct 2017   #7
mrjimphelps

Linux Mint 18.2 xfce 64-bit (VMWare host) / Windows 8.1 Pro 32-bit (VMWare guest)
 
 

Reboot into Safe Mode, and run Defragmenter from there. It will run a lot faster, because not much will be running other than Defragmenter.

Another option is to use Task Manager to kill everything except the bare essentials, and then run Defragmenter.
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16 Oct 2017   #8
martinlest

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit
 
 

Reboot into Safe Mode, and run Defragmenter

Many sites say that this makes little difference. If you can defrag at boot however (before Windows loads) that might be an idea. Some tools allow this - not checked whether the Win7 defragmenter will allow it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Oct 2017   #9
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

I never ran defrag in safe mode and it seemed to work just fine. I would look every few months just to make sure my HDDs were being defragged OK every week and they were never over 1 or 2% (usually, they were 0%). Again, I have no idea how long it took to defrag all three of the HDDs because they were always done by the time I woke up in the morning (I let my desktop machine run 24/7). I use all SSDs now so I have defragging shut off and won't worry about fragmentation until one gets above 20%-25%.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Oct 2017   #10
mrjimphelps

Linux Mint 18.2 xfce 64-bit (VMWare host) / Windows 8.1 Pro 32-bit (VMWare guest)
 
 

I have personally run Defragmenter in Safe Mode and have observed that it can run a lot faster than in regular Windows mode, because there is virtually nothing else running when you are in Safe Mode.

I have also personally run Defragmenter in regular mode, after killing just about all processes in Task Manager. It runs fast when you do that as well.

I'm not quoting someone else's statistics when I say that; this is my personal experience.

Full disclaimer: It was not with Windows 7, but with an earlier version of Windows.
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 Defragmenting large drives?




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