My memory fails me. Not my Mac’s memory. My memory. Honestly, I don’t remember when I last defragged a Mac hard disk drive. Maybe it was OS X Tiger. Perhaps Leopard. But it could have been as far back as Panther.
Defragmentation of a Mac or PC hard disk drive is the process that reduces file fragmentation by organizing the disks files into the smallest number of contiguous regions. Ostensibly, a defrayed disk drive performs reads and writes faster than a disk where all the files are scattered about.
Why has it been years since I last defragged the Mac? Back in the day, every new release of OS X put me into refresh mode whereby I would backup all files, then erase the Mac’s disk drive, and perform a fresh installation of the latest version.
That process ended probably with Snow Leopard. The upgrade to Lion was memorable for its painlessness. The same held true for upgrading to Mountain Lion. It just worked and my Macs behaved fine afterwards.
It’s been awhile since I did a defragmentation of the Mac’s disk drives, so I grabbed a copy of iDefrag and turned it loose on an older MacBook. Setup could not have been easier. Select the disk, click the Go button.
As with most defragging tools, iDefrag took many, many, many hours to completely defrag a large hard disk. Fortunately, it didn’t find any errors.
Unlike defragging apps of the past, iDefrag doesn’t need a bootable CD or DVD. It can even be used on a Time Machine backup disk.
OS X has a technology called the Hot Zone. Your Mac moves files you use the most to an area on the hard disk that gives you faster access times. iDefrag knows which files should be in the Hot Zone and leaves them alone.
One thing about defragging a disk– it can take hours and the disk drive is churning away during that time. It can get warm. When the temperature reaches a certain level, iDefrag knows to slow down and let your Mac cool off before continuing.
After all that disk churning and file rearranging, did my Mac run faster? Yes. The older MacBook booted up faster and opened apps quicker. New Macs didn’t have the same notable effects (probably because there was less fragmentation).