Fragmentation - Do I need to De-frag my Mac?

There is nothing that causes more debate in a roomful of Macintosh geeks that the topic of hard drive defragmentation!

The most interesting part is that you can almost divide the room into the anti-defragging group vs. the "you must defrag" group based on the color of their hair!

Now just wait a minute--before you begin thinking age discrimination, you need to know that not all of us gray-haired people people are in the defrag camp, it is just that there are way too many of us there.
There is nothing that causes more debate in a roomful of Macintosh geeks that the topic of hard drive defragmentation!

The most interesting part is that you can almost divide the room into the anti-defragging group vs. the "you must defrag" group based on the color of their hair!

Now just wait a minute--before you begin thinking age discrimination, you need to know that not all of us gray-haired people people are in the defrag camp, it is just that there are way too many of us there.

Let's go back to the earlier days of Macintosh computers. Back in the day when we had not even heard of Mac OS X. Defragmenting your hard drive was a necessary evil if you managed to fill you drive close to capacity. However, back in those days, a 40 MB hard drive was not un-heard of. Of course, our files tended to be much smaller, but we were not surfing a web filled with graphics. We were not downloading hour-long podcasts, we were not using digital cameras that routinely take 10 MB images.

If you used Mac OS 7 to 9 and you used your computer frequently, you needed to defragment your hard drive once or twice a year. Mac users got so used to defragmenting their drives that some even made it a part of weekly or monthly maintenance routine.

Many of the older Mac users are still in search of the old days. They would feel most comfortable if there was a set of things to do every week or month.

The engineers over at Apple know that every utility that helps you "fix" your computer is soon out of date, and running old utilities on newer versions of the operating system is a recipe for a mess!

Our newer Mac users have never had to perform periodic maintenance tasks on their computers, so they are much more content to let hidden maintenance routines take care of keeping things running.

I recently was lead to this article by Amit Singh, one of those REAL Mac geeks. Although it was written in the days of Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, the article certainly applies to today.

It is long and deep, but the conclusion is the part that I want you to read:

http://www.kernelthread.com/mac/apme/fragmentation/

In case you did not make it to the link, these are the two most important paragraphs:

Defragmentation on HFS+ volumes should not be necessary at all, or worthwhile, in most cases, because the system seems to do a very good job of avoiding/countering fragmentation.


It is risky to defragment anyway: What if there's a power glitch? What if the system crashes? What if the defragmenting tool has a bug? What if you inadvertently reboot? In some cases, you could make the situation worse by defragmenting.


So what do you do when your Mac is running slow?
  1. Restart - something as simple as a restart can often speed your computer up. Remember there is not a contest to see who can go the longest between re-starts!
  2. Make sure you have enough RAM. Apple recently began shipping all but its most inexpensive computers with 2 GB of RAM. If you don't have at least that much, it is probably time to think about installing more RAM and you can install it yourself!
  3. Quit programs that you are not using. I am always amazed at how many programs the typical user has open on their computer. While Mac OS X reduces the amount of memory being used by applications that are running in the background, they are still using some RAM and if your computer is low on RAM, quitting programs you are not using can help to speed it up.
  4. Restart your Internet browser every few hours. It does not matter if you are using Safari, Firefox, Opera, or even Mozilla, all browsers use more and more RAM the longer they run!

If you computer is still running slowly, it may be time for a checkup from the crew at Bob LeVitus Consulting. Although this will count as a troubleshooting call, we can still usually diagnose and fix slow computer problems about 30 minutes, so the cost of the service is usually only $60.00. If the problem is RAM, we'll even tell you about several places to order RAM and get you ready to install it yourself using nothing more than a screwdriver (except for the Mac Mini). Remember, these are Macs, so even adding RAM is easy!
--Pat
blog comments powered by Disqus