Do you need to defrag SSD? What happens if you defragment a Solid State Drive

Most are quite confused over the questions, whether we should defragment Solid State Drives or SSD’s in Windows 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 a SSD? Here is more light on the subject.

Do you need to defrag SSD?

Do you need to defrag SSD

SSD or Solid State Drive, also known as Electronic Disks, have 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?

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.”

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.

Read: How to Enable or Disable Defragmentation for SSD.

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 to maximum fragmentation and the life of SSDs will reduce drastically.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

13 Comments

  1. Foze RI

    What about HDD?

  2. jim

    Funny…PC magazine and many other publications directly contradict this writer’s opinion…and advise that defragging a SSD will unnecessarily reduce it’s life span. They are so sure of the finding of their test, that they advise NEVER defragging a SSD

  3. jorge correa

    To defrag and not to defrag… that is the question…… So now we have different opinions and studies and tests and what ever on defragging SSDs. What next??? Does anyone know of a company that manufactures SSDs and maybe they have something to say???

  4. FILIP

    what is HDD?

  5. Lee

    Hard Disk Drive

  6. Paul Stephens

    Samsung FAQ

    “No, Solid State Drives do not need defragmentation because they have no moving parts and can access any location on the drive equally fast.
    Please disable any defragmentation utilities on your computer because they will only wear down the performance of your SSD.
    Visit the OS Optimization section of Samsung SSD Magician for help doing this.”

  7. Cygnus

    That is the opinion of the *drive manufacturer*. It doesn’t take into account *how* the SSD is used by the operating system (or, more precisely, by the filesystem used by the OS). Go back and re-read Scott Hanselman’s blog excerpt. If you’re going to take up the “don’t defrag SSDs, ever” banner, you’ll want to consider this angle and either change your opinion or offer up an explanation of why what Scott has to say is either wrong or irrelevant.

  8. Solis

    Who do you think knows more about the product? The actual hardware manufacturer or a software vendor that purports to?

  9. Warren

    Is that a trick question? As a computer programmer, it is most definitely the windows team. They are not simply a “software vendor” they are a developer of a hardware software intermediary known as an “operating system” They know a lot more about how their operating system interacts with hardware than anyone whom simply produces a piece of hardware of which there are many manufacturers using the same architecture.

    Also, because an ssd now has a lifespan of a few hundred years against write problems, the speed boost from less meta data far outweighs the hours you take off its massive life. Unless you need to leave the ssd to your great great great grandchildren?

  10. Frank Van Der Mast

    So basically what you are saying is this:
    Because Microsoft fails to account for SSD’s properly by re-implementing their solution towards file fragmentation metadata on their filesystem we should just accept the fact that they’d rather shorten our overall SSD lifetime to work-around this ‘problem’ instead of giving us the ability to decide ourselves whether we prefer longevity or quick access*

    *this is assuming file-fragmentation plays any significant role in speed of access on an SSD, which I believe it shouldn’t provided you apply best practice to disk management (i.e. format and reinstall windows once a year / biannually depending on usage; not constantly install & uninstall stuff; not being an idiot like by downloading files&torrents to your SSD prior to relocation towards HDD storage)
    I wonder how much meta-data we are even talking here before it’s full… given the knowledge that an ‘average joe’ user probably thrashes his HDD/SSD a lot more than anyone who would even know what defragmentation is and how it relates to an SSD I feel like this response is taking the piss a bit. I see no way in hell that a person who properly manages his data and disks could ever run into the meta-data limit.

    To sum it all up:
    Microsoft’s FS’s inability to cope with fragmentation meta-data (read: lazy) is no excuse to defragment our SSD’s!

  11. Frank Van Der Mast

    It does?

    Because it sure doesn’t seem that way to me.
    Current/next-gen SSD’s have random read and write values ranging in the 50.000-100.000 range… That’s a whole lot of fragments you have to have in order to even perceptually notice a decrease in read/write speeds.

    In fact, I just checked the C: (OS&Applications) SSD disk on my recently installed Win10 machine and it had just over 160.000 files -IN TOTAL-…

    I’m no expert (naturally) but it does seem to me like fragmentation on an SSD would be an actual NON-ISSUE for anything a home-user or even professional user could throw at it bar from hosting a database on it (but I believe even then it wouldn’t apply because database software would deal with the problem of fragmentation on its own by not being retarded I.E. putting each entry into a seperate file on the FS).

    EDIT: I just thought of a scenario… a clumsy photographer that imports a lot of photos to an SSD and then batch-modifies all of them.

  12. Matt

    “format and reinstall windows once a year / biannually depending on usage”

    So basically what you are saying is this: Because hardware vendors fail to account for common usage patters, I should have to reinstall my operating system twice per year.

  13. Yossarian

    Frank, you are completely wrong.The matter is NOT the number of files nor the number of files added, but the CHANGES written to persistent files. Imagine a logfile (and Windows do have several event log files for example) that are written on daily basis. The files grow and are being overwritten (as logs work on FIFO basis) and the Filesystem has to cope with this, many times in a constrained environment where there is not much space left (very common for SSDs) and the defrag is the way to cope with this in a single shot once a month. Yes, this defrag routine could be a part of the kernel, but the result would have been the same. I don’t see any reason to blame the Microsoft. For instance, from the Linux world, the widely used ext4fs or the upcoming btrfs, both need similar defrag procedures for partitions that are being constantly overwritten.

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