Most are quite confused over the questions, whether we should defragment Solid State Drives or SSDs in Windows 11/10/8/7 and whether Windows itself defrags them during Automatic Maintenance. But many have these questions – Should I defragment SSD or Solid State Drive? Do you need to defrag SSD? What happens if you defrag an SSD? Here is more light on the subject.
Do you need to defrag SSD?
SSD or Solid State Drive, also known as Electronic Disk, has no moving mechanical parts, such as movable read and write heads and the spinning disks. SSDs use non-volatile flash memory, unlike the HDDs (or Hard disk drives). A general perception about the SSDs is that, these disks have a shorter lifespan and that these disks can handle a very limited number of writes. Thus defragmenting SSD’s is not a good idea. So the question arises if Windows is defragmenting SSDs automatically; then is it a good thing?
Read: Things you must do when running an SSD in Windows 11.
Does Windows carry out defragmentation of SSDs
In one word, the answer is YES. Windows does defragment your SSDs automatically and periodically. Windows is smart enough and does this task appropriately and intelligently.
Scott Hanselman of Microsoft, says in his blog post,
Storage Optimizer will defrag an SSD once a month if volume snapshots are enabled. This is by design and necessary due to slow volsnap copy on write performance on fragmented SSD volumes. It’s also somewhat of a misconception that fragmentation is not a problem on SSDs. If an SSD gets too fragmented you can hit maximum file fragmentation (when the metadata can’t represent any more file fragments) which will result in errors when you try to write/extend a file. Furthermore, more file fragments means more metadata to process while reading/writing a file, which can lead to slower performance.
As far as Retrim is concerned, this command should run on the schedule specified in the dfrgui UI. Retrim is necessary because of the way TRIM is processed in the file systems. Due to the varying performance of hardware responding to TRIM, TRIM is processed asynchronously by the file system. When a file is deleted or space is otherwise freed, the file system queues the trim request to be processed. To limit the peek resource usage this queue may only grow to a maximum number of trim requests. If the queue is of max size, incoming TRIM requests may be dropped. This is okay because we will periodically come through and do a Retrim with Storage Optimizer. The Retrim is done at a granularity that should avoid hitting the maximum TRIM request queue size where TRIMs are dropped.
The term ‘volsnap’ mentioned in his blog stands for Volume Shadow Copy System of Windows. This function is used by Windows System Restore to store your system’s previous activities so that you can restore that data by going back. If this function is turned on, automatic defragmentation of SSDs will take place. Windows does the defragmentation intelligently.
Should I defrag my SSD or Solid State Drive?
Hanselman concludes by saying:
Windows is not foolishly or blindly running a defrag on your SSD every night, and no, Windows defrag isn’t shortening the life of your SSD unnecessarily. Modern SSDs don’t work the same way that we are used to with traditional hard drives. Your SSD’s file system sometimes needs a kind of defragmentation and that’s handled by Windows, monthly by default, when appropriate. The intent is to maximize performance and a long life. If you disable defragmentation completely, you are taking a risk that your filesystem metadata could reach maximum fragmentation and get you potentially in trouble.
In short, due to this defragmentation, the life of your SSDs increases. The performance of the disk also increases due to the regular defragmentation. If defragmentation doesn’t take place at all, your file system metadata will reach maximum fragmentation and the life of SSDs will reduce drastically.
Read: SSD Optimization Tips for better performance.