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Why You Never, Ever, Ever Defragment a Solid State Drive

It’s common practice for many computer owners to defragment their hard drives on their laptops and desktops.  And for HDDs, it’s actually a very good practice – you conserve space on your drive and, especially, speed it up.

However, you should never, ever defrag your SSD – that is, unless you want it to fail way before its time.

Here’s what happens when you defrag a drive.  When saving a large file, your system may choose to break up – fragment – that file into different sections of a hard drive.  As a result, over time many files may be in different fragments throughout a hard drive.  Due to the relatively long time frame an HDD takes to find all those pieces and put them back together, a heavily fragmented drive can create some major performance issues.  Hence, the need to defrag: the drive finds all the fragmented files and reassembles them into nice, neat, single pieces on your drive, thus resulting in a performance improvement, especially for older drives with heavily fragmented files.

However, the seek time (the amount of time it takes to find a complete file) is vastly lower on SSDs than on HDDs.  Defragging an SSD isn’t going to deliver a speed increase.  In addition, realize that SSDs, over time, can wear out – it only has so many write cycles before the drive basically burns up.  And as anybody who has ever defragged a drive can tell you, the defrag process means the disk is written to over and over and over…

In short: defragging an SSD uses up a lot of limited write cycles really quickly, and delivers no real improvement in performance.  So you’re better off not doing it.

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