How to Defragment a Hard Drive in Windows 11

If you have a Windows computer, you may have noticed that your PC slows down over time. It’s not that Windows suddenly stops working properly, or that your hard drive has crashed. The truth is much simpler: you’ve given the hard drive so much trouble that it needs a good “tune-up”.

This involves performing various review and optimization tasks, such as uninstalling unnecessary applications, deleting temporary files, reviewing the programs that start at startup, running an antivirus on the computer, or defragmenting the hard drive.

What exactly does it mean to “defragment” a hard disk?

Imagine that your drive is like a game of Tetris. The worse you place the pieces that the game gives you, leaving free spaces, the less space you will have on the screen to place the rest of the pieces that will arrive in the future.

With the hard drive of your PC, more or less the same thing happens. The more files you copy-cut-paste, the more programs you install and uninstall, the more your hard drive will fill up. The problem is that the more “the game” advances (or in our case, the more use we give to the PC), the more disordered the information and the free space on the hard disk become.

Defragmentation consists precisely of taking all the data that is stored on the disk and keeping it in order, compacting it, in such a way that it is less difficult for the system to find it. Thus, all the information will be together and will be much more accessible. The free space will also be in the same section of the hard drive, making it much easier and faster to manage.

How to defragment a hard drive in Windows 11

With modern computers, it is hardly necessary to defragment the disk since this is a task that Windows performs automatically with the PC’s mechanical drives. Solid-state drives don’t need to be defragmented either, so if you have an SSD you don’t need to worry too much about it either.

Anyway, if you want your operating system to work in the best possible conditions, defragmenting your hard drive manually might be a good idea. Needless to say, if you have an external hard drive or USB flash drive, you should defragment it by hand (assume they may not have been connected the last time Windows performed the automatic defragmentation).

With that said, here is a short step-by-step guide to defragmenting a hard drive or external storage drive in Windows 11. If you have Windows 10, the process should be almost identical.

  • Open the Windows 11 taskbar search engine and type “defragment”. This will help you open the application “Defragment and optimize drives.
  • From the “Optimize drives” window you will see a list of all eligible drives to optimize and defragment. Select the desired drive and click on “ Optimize ”. If you can’t optimize any drive, it may be because Windows 11 can only defragment drives in NTFS format. Drives in exFAT format will also not appear in the list.
  • After pressing the “Optimize” button, Windows will start the defragmentation routine. If we have a solid-state SSD, the system will execute the TRIM command, which fulfills a more or less similar function and helps improve the speed of the SSD.defrag a hard drive in Windows 11

Once the drive defragmentation process is complete, you will see that in the “Current status” field it appears as “100% optimized”. Upon completion, the current status will appear as “Successful”.

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