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BLOG: Fragging wonderful: The truth about defragging your SSD

Jon L. Jacobi | Sept. 6, 2013
With smarter file systems and faster disks and PCs, file fragmentation isn't the performance suck it once was.

SlimCleaner Intelligent Defrag
Intelligent Defrag is a simple but generally capable defragger that ships as part of the free SlimCleaner PC optimizer. It works well with hard drives, but you'd never know that from its drive map. Though colorful, the map isn't very accurate in relaying the state of disk fragmentation.

The only options available within Intelligent Defrag are quick defrag and full defrag. On the heavily fragmented hard-drive partition, I chose full, as a partial defrag would do little good. The program did a decent job of fixing the large files and consolidated the other small fragments to the outside of the disk, but there was still some fragmentation in the areas with the small files.

Intelligent Defrag did perform some operations on our fragmented SSD—quite a few of them. For anyone aware of write-cycle life spans, it might be a bit nerve-wracking. It surely was for me, when I realized I'd let it run on my system partition. On the highly fragmented test SSD, it threw its hands up right away. CrystalDiskMark results showed no improvement in performance after the operation.

Intelligent Defrag is a decent defragger for hard drives, but with the number of writes it put on my system SSD, and given its lack of success at defragging the superfragmented SSD, it left me thinking that you're better off leaving your SSDs alone. As a part of the highly capable SlimCleaner PC-cleaning package, it's a nice extra...but the free, public-domain version of UltimateDefrag is a lot better.

Defrag your hard drive, but leave the SSD alone
From my limited tests, I'm firmly convinced that the tiny difference that even the best SSD defragger makes is not worth reducing the life span of your SSD. Add another voice to the chorus that's singing "Don't defrag your SSD." If you're truly convinced there are performance problems with your SSD due to file or cell fragmentation, get a utility that will issue a TRIM command. Or copy your data off, do a secure erase (using hdparm or Parted Magic), and copy it back again.

All four programs did a good job of optimizing hard drives, with PerfectDisk leading the way for one-off defragging, and both PerfectDisk and Diskeeper offering background defragging as you work. If you're running a server or using programs that constantly write small files to disk, the background fragmentation prevention offered by Diskeeper and PerfectDisk could be useful. I saw no increase in performance on my PCs employing it, but it didn't seem to slow down my PC, and more optimized writes can't hurt.

If you don't need the real-time features, check out the free version of UltimateDefrag for defragging entire disks intelligently and Piriform's Defraggler for quickly defragging a single file or folder.

 

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