Do you “defrag” your Mac often? Maybe you don’t even know what defragging your hard drive is. Either way it is not a term I have heard very often in the Apple community since “switching” over post Apple moving to the Intel chips. This is a big contrast to the Microsoft Windows community I work with so much where defrag is considered to be a necessary maintenance process.
Defrag or defragging is in reference to a process you run on your systems hard drive to defragment data. This is done by the system performing an analysis on your hard drive, identifying related files that are spread all over in small chunks, and then relocating those files so they reside closer together on the physical disk. This ultimately speeds up your read times from the hard drive during application use, and as such speeds up your application response times.
I recently took my iMac 27″ in for an issue I was having on start up and upon calling Apple Care I was reminded about an email I received a little while back in regards to a hard drive recall that I had yet to take care of. That call got me thinking, being an old school Windows user, I started asking questions about how I should defrag my hard drive.
Upon asking this very question to the Apple Genius assisting me, he said as long as I reboot my machine at least 1 to 2 times a week I do not need to defrag my Mac. Now, while I am sure that is the only answer he typically needed to provide about such questions, I was curious how this was possible and wanted a more complete picture. So at my prodding he went on to explain that OS X didn’t typically have the same concerns as some “other” operating systems because it does some cleanup processes upon reboot among other things that help prevent fragmentation.
When I got home, I dug in a bit deeper and did some further research. Firstly, this really is only an issue with the older platter style hard drives, and that SSD or (Solid State Drives) are a completely different story. What I did find for regular platter hard drives was, the restart isn’t the only factor in OS X not needing to defrag my hard drive. Another major reason is simply how the operating system writes files to the hard drive in the first place. Using a combination of writing small files in a more efficient manner and better utilizing the larger hard drives of today, OS X really does take care of itself very well. I even found that defragmenting your OS X hard drive could in a few instances be detrimental to its performance.
So, if you are noticing some performance issues, or you are like me and haven’t restarted lately, you just may want to do that and trust that OS X has you and your hard drive in good order. If you are a bit of a geek like me and want more details direct from the horses mouth, check out Apple’s Support Site to get the nerdy gritty details.