How to Get Enough Space to Defrag a Computer

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While Windows suggests at least 20 percent of the hard drive space be free when defragmenting a computer, as little as 5 percent will be sufficient. Find out why a computer needs free hard drive space for a defrag with information from a network engineer and IT specialist in this free video on computers.

Part of the Video Series: Computer Hardware Tips
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Video Transcript

When defragmenting a computer, sometimes the Windows asks you to have at least twenty percent of the total capacity of the hard drive free, so that it can defragment effectively. You can do this with at least as little as five percent, with a forced defrag, and that is when you click the defrag button and it gives you that warning, go ahead and click 'Yes' to say go ahead and defragment now, and it will defragment with whatever space you have available. Why does Microsoft ask you this? Well, when you defragment a hard drive, what you're doing is you're physically taking the fragmented areas or files, and putting them back together in the same kind of central area. So say, for instance, take... looking in your kitchen... you wouldn't have one pot here and another pan here, in two different cabinets. You'd want them together so that way when you went to one location you knew exactly where it was. That's exactly what defragmenting does, is it puts all the files that pertain to one central program, like your media files, instead of having them fragmented in different portions, which happens over time of the hard drive, the physical hard drive itself, and it puts them all back together. So, the seek time, spinning up that hard drive and pointing the computer to that area is a lot faster. That's what defragmenting pretty much is. The more space you have on the PC at the time of defragmentation means that it has a larger temporary space to move... say, all your media files... here, while it puts the Windows Media Player files in another location, and then puts the media files back in a certain area. It goes down further into sectors and all that stuff on the hard drive, but to just kind of an overview, you really don't need all twenty perfect. You can use just five percent of the hard drive space available to let it... excuse me, to defragment your hard drive.

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