Site search

Use Defraggler for defragmenting disks in Windows

By , logo. Last updated: 2017-10-06

How to use Defraggler for automatic disk defragmentation in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10

File fragmentation is a big issue that usually does not get much attention. It occurs when a hard drive partition contains tens of thousands of files (like it always does) and a file gets updated but there is no room right after it to keep the file written sequentially. So the updated part gets written elsewhere on the hard disk, sometimes in one part, sometimes to several different places on the hard disk. This means that the next time Windows wants to read from or write to the file, the hard disk controller must access several places all over the disk to read or write information - meaning that a file access time gets higher and you must wait longer for an operation to complete. For one file this might mean only a few milliseconds, but if your hard drive is nearly full and fragmentation level is high, this turns easily into tens and tens of seconds of waiting.

If Windows XP or Vista is installed on a Solid State Drive (SSD), you should disable automated defragmentation. Defragmenting SSD-s is unnecessary and it might decrease the lifetime of the drives, or even cause complete drive failures.
Windows 7, 8/8.1 and 10 are able to run special TRIM commands automatically on SSD-s - this is a replacement for defragmenting.

Hybrid drives (aka SSHD), such as Seagate Momentus XT still need defragmentation because the SSD space is used for application cache only.

While Windows has a Disk Defragmenter built in, its efficiency is not that good for hard drives. Windows XP users do not even have easy access to the scheduling capability. But the biggest problem is that Windows Disk Defragmenter does not defragment large files and this lowers the performance of your device.

Piriform Defraggler is able to defragment all files, run on a schedule and perform boot-time defragmentation (just like Sysinternals PageDefrag can in Windows XP). You can also defragment specific folders or files for quick optimization.
For SSD-s, Defraggler runs TRIM commands, if necessary.

Please do note that if you want to defragment Paging File (pagefile.sys) at boot time, you'll need an older version of Defraggler, such as 2.01.

Please make sure that you have sufficient free disk space (at least 15% of total disk space) - no disk defragmenter can do its work well if there is not enough free room available. Read the Free up disk space in Windows and Remove temporary files with CCleaner articles for detailed instructions.

If your Windows 7, 8/8.1 or 10 device has only SSD-s (no hard drives or hybrid drives), then there is no need to install Defraggler - Windows' own defragmentation and optimization tool does its TRIM job well enough.

Downloading and installing Piriform Defraggler in Windows

Open Defraggler download page, locate Defraggler Free section and click
Defraggler download page. In the Defraggler Free section, click ''.

The installation process is very simple, but please pay attention to promotional offers that might appear if your device does not have Google products installed. Do not install any software offered here as you probably do not need additional toolbars or web browsers. Too many toolbars will make any browser slow, so please remember not to install everything blindly.
In the example below, clear the Install the free Google Toolbar along with Defraggler box and click Install.
Defraggler Setup Wizard, Free! Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer. Clear the 'Install the free Google Toolbar' box. Then click Install.

Defragmenting whole hard drives with Defraggler in Windows

After Defraggler opens, right-click any listed drive/volume/partition and select Analyze Drive from the menu. Alternatively, you can click a drive and use the Analyze button on the bottom of the window.
Please close all running programs to allow Defraggler to do its work well - locked (in use) files cannot be defragmented.
Piriform Defraggler, main window. Right-click a drive and select 'Analyze Drive' to see how fragmented the disk is.

The analysis might take a few minutes to complete. See the Fragmentation column on top right or in the Status section for results.
If the fragmentation percentage exceeds 10, you should optimize the drive by clicking or tapping the Defrag button to run a full defragmentation. The process might take several hours to complete on large hard drives.

You can also run a non-comprehensive optimization by clicking the arrowhead pointing down on the right side of the Defrag button and selecting the Quick Defrag option. This one is much faster, but not as thorough as the full defragmentation.

If S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) is available on your PC, there is also the Disk Health line available. Make sure it reads "Good", otherwise your hard drive might be failing soon.

If needed, use the Shutdown after Defrag or Close program after Defrag options in Settings menu to automatically turn off the PC or close Defraggler after defragmentation is complete.
Piriform Defraggler, main window, analysis complete. If Fragmentation is higher than 10%, you should click the Defrag button. Piriform Defraggler, main window. Clicking the arrowhead pointing down opens defragmentation options. Choose 'Quick Defrag' if you want to perform a faster and less thorough defragmentation.

The Drive map tab explains the colored map right under the drive list. Health tab lists detailed information on the selected hard drive.
Piriform Defraggler, main window, Drive map tab. This tab explains the colors on drive map below the drives list. Piriform Defraggler, main window, Health tab. This tab reveals detailed information about the selected hard drive.

If Recycle Bin contains many files or is corrupted, Defraggler offers to empty it before starting the defragmentation - this might make the whole process much faster.
In case you are absolutely sure the Recycle Bin contains nothing important, click Yes in the dialog. If the special folder is corrupted, you should certainly click Yes to fix it.
Piriform Defraggler, Remove unnecessary files. Click Yes to empty Recycle Bin before starting defragmentation. Piriform Defraggler, Recycle Bin on drive is corrupted. Click Yes to empty and fix Recycle Bin before starting defragmentation.

After the defragmentation process is complete, its Status section states "Defrag Finished" or "Quick Defrag Finished". You should analyze and defragment all drives in your computer to retain optimum performance.
Piriform Defraggler, main window. After defragging is complete, drive Status reads 'Defrag Finished' or 'Quick Defrag Finished'.

If fragmentation level stays high even after full defragmentation, you should run Defraggler in Windows Safe Mode. This ensures best results with files that are normally in use by background programs and Windows services.

Defragmenting only fragmented files with Defraggler

If you do not want to optimize the whole drive, you can defrag only the items that are fragmented. This is much quicker than full defragmentation, but might be a tad slower than quick defrag. The method always ensures that all files (except those in use) are aligned sequentially on the disk.

First, analyze a drive. Then open Files list tab and put a check mark in the Filename check box on the left. This select all items that are fragmented.
Click Defrag Checked to start the process.
Piriform Defraggler, main window. To defragment only fragmented items and skip optimization, click to open the File list tab. Tick the 'Filename' check box. Then click 'Defrag Checked'.

Please close all running programs for best results. The defragmentation process might take up to an hour if the number of fragmented items is high.
If really-really necessary, click Pause or Stop.
Piriform Defraggler, Defrag progress. Stand by.

After Defraggler finishes, click OK.
In most cases, some files cannot be defragmented - this is completely normal. To overcome troubles with locked files, run Defraggler in Windows Safe Mode.
Piriform Defraggler, Defrag Complete. Some files were not defragmented. Click OK.

Scheduling automatic hard drive defragmentation with Defraggler in Windows

Defraggler allows creating a fully automated hard disk defragmentation schedule in Windows. This removes the need to run the lengthy process manually, and makes it possible to defrag drives while you are not using your device.

First, open Settings menu, expand the Priority sub-menu and choose Background. This ensures that the scheduled task will not consume too much processing power and that you can continue working normally during the automated defragmentation. As a side effect, the process will take longer to complete.
Piriform Defraggler, main window. Open the Settings menu, expand 'Priority' and select 'Background'. This will reduce performance hit while Defraggler is working.

Next, open Settings menu again and click or touch Schedule.
Piriform Defraggler, main window. To automate Defraggler, open the Settings menu and click Schedule.

In the Schedule window, select a Drive. Then enable the Schedule defragmentation for chosen volume option. "Volume" and "drive" are used interchangeably in this article.
Select Monthly in the Period section and use the options on the right to set a starting date and time for the scheduled defrag. You should set a time when the PC is most probably turned on.
Set the task to run on specific Day(s) or Day(s) of week.
Choose Full or Quick from the Defrag type combo box in Advanced section. In most cases, use full defragmentation; the quick option is useful only if you rarely create or modify files on this PC.
Click OK to create the schedule.
Piriform Defraggler, Schedule window. Select a drive and turn on the 'Schedule defragmentation for chosen volume' option. Set the Period to Monthly. Then select days or days of week for running the automatic defragmentation. Piriform Defraggler, Schedule window, Day(s) of week option.

If you have more than one drive or partition, you should set automatic defragmentation on these, too. But please do not overlap the schedules (defrag different drives/volumes on different days) to avoid system slowdowns.

Enabling Defraggler's Boot Time Defrag in Windows

Because several system files are locked while Windows is running, it is necessary to defragment these before Windows starts. Common examples are Event Logs, Registry, User Accounts database and the Paging File (aka Pagefile). The latter can cause serious slowdowns if it is badly fragmented and Random Access Memory (RAM) is full.

Please do note that if you want to defragment Paging File (pagefile.sys) at boot time, you'll need an older version of Defraggler, such as 2.01.

While Windows XP users can also use the small Sysinternals PageDefrag utility for boot-time defragmentation, the program will not run properly in Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10. That's where Defraggler can help.

To avoid unnecessary waiting while paging file is defragmented at every boot, set Windows virtual memory file to fixed size.

Below is an example of badly fragmented Paging File on a Windows XP system. Because the file parts are all over the disk, it takes considerably more time to write to or read from the file, causing very poor performance.
Piriform Defraggler, badly fragmented Paging File example.

To enable defragmenting the system files, open Settings menu, expand Boot Time Defrag and choose Run Every Time. This means that Event Logs and Paging File will be defragged each time Windows starts, excluding returning from Sleep or Hibernation modes.
Please note that defragmenting the Paging File might take up to 30-40 minutes the first time. If you often experience long delays during boot time defrag, you should set the file to a fixed size.
Piriform Defraggler, main window. To enable defragmenting system files at boot, open Settings, Boot Time Defrag and click 'Run Every Time'.

Defraggler offers rebooting right away. Click No to keep working, or Yes to restart your computer.
Piriform Defraggler, Boot Time Defrag, Would you like to reboot now? Click No to continue working.

After you restart your computer the next time, a special blue (in Windows XP only) or black screen will appear after displaying Windows logo. The system files will then be defragmented for optimum performance.
Please wait until the process is complete - defragging Paging File (pagefile.sys) for the first time might take up to 30 minutes in case it is badly fragmented. Never turn off or reboot the PC during this process!
Piriform Defraggler, Boot Time Defrag in Windows XP. Please stand by. Piriform Defraggler, Boot Time Defrag in Windows 7. Please stand by.

Windows will start as usual after the boot-time defragmentation is complete.

Checking and defragmenting specific folders with Defraggler in Windows

In case you do not want to defragment a whole drive, you can check the fragmentation level and run defrag on specific folders or files.

First, ensure that Defraggler is not running. In Windows/File Explorer, right-click the folder or file you want to analyze. Expand the Defraggler menu and choose Check Fragmentation.
Windows Explorer, right-click menu. To check for file or folder fragmentation level, open Defraggler menu and click 'Check Fragmentation'.

After the check is complete, Defraggler will display the results. If no fragmentation was detected, click Close.
Piriform Defraggler, Processing finished. There are 0 fragmented files. Click Close.

If fragmented files were detected, click Close. Next, right-click the item in Windows/File Explorer and select Defragment from the Defraggler menu.
Piriform Defraggler, Processing finished. There are 1 fragmented files (3 fragments). Click Close. Windows Explorer, right-click menu. To defrag a specific file or folder, open Defraggler menu and click Defragment.


Ctrl+F searches in the contents

Next: Use ReadyBoost in Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10
Previous: Set paging file to a fixed size in Windows