Windows 10 tip: Defrag secrets for hard disks and SSDs

Should you defrag your solid-state drive? Absolutely not! Here's how to keep conventional hard disks, SSDs, and even virtual disks running at peak efficiency.
Written by Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor

Windows 10 is smart enough to tell the difference between hard disks and SSDs and to optimize them properly.

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In the Dark Ages of computing, defragmenting a hard disk was something you had to do regularly to keep it running at peak efficiency. Those defragmenter utilities typically included visualizations, allowing you to watch as the system painstakingly moved data sectors so that they were contiguous.

Today, your Windows 10 PC is much more likely to include a solid-state drive (SSD) as its main storage. SSDs don't need defragmenting the same way that older hard disks do, but they require occasional maintenance, including the need to have the TRIM utility run occasionally to ensure that deleted blocks are properly marked for reuse.

The good news is that Windows 10 does a very good job of identifying the different types of storage and scheduling the proper optimization for each one. You don't need to perform any special steps to enable TRIM support either.

To check the status of all currently available drives, type defrag in the search box and then click Defragment and Optimize Drives from the results list.

The list of volumes displayed in the Optimize Drives window clearly indicates the media type for each one. Conventional hard disks are still defragmented (sorry, there's no Tetris-style progress map). If you click the Optimize button for an SSD, you'll see a brief status message as it trims the current drive, an operation that should complete in a few seconds. The utility is even smart enough to detect virtual hard drives and manage their usage properly.

But manual intervention isn't really necessary, because the appropriate drive optimization is scheduled to happen weekly. If you're curious, feel free to check in with the Drive Optimizer every so often, just to confirm that fragmentation is holding steady at 0 percent.

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