Is your PC running slow? If so, you may assume that upgrading the hardware with newer components will make it faster. While replacing components like the CPU and RAM can certainly make a difference, though, you should first defragment your computer’s hard drive. It’s a quick and easy process that can yield huge performance benefits.

What Is Defragmenting?

Also known as defragging, defragmenting is a computer process that involves rearranging bits of data so that files can be accessed more quickly. Whether it’s a web browser, graphics editor, video game, antimalware software, etc., files contain many bits of data that’s stored on a hard drive. When a file is initially created or installed, the data is generally placed together in the same or similar location of the hard drive. Over time, however, the bits of data may become separated from each other — a phenomenon known as fragmenting.

Defragmenting refers to the use of a program or app to reorganize bits of data so that they are closer together and, therefore, can be accessed more quickly. As the bits of data in a file are physically moved closer together, the hard drive can read it more quickly, resulting in faster speeds when executing the respective file.

Why Should I Defragment My Hard Drive?

If you don’t defragment your hard drive, you can expect slower speeds. As previously mentioned, this process is designed to move bits of data closer together. Failure to defrag your hard drive on a regular basis means the data will spread gradually on your hard drive. You can probably still access and run files on your PC, but it will take longer if there’s significant fragmentation present.

How to Defragment Your Hard Drive in Windows 10

Defragmenting a hard drive in Windows 10 is a breeze thanks to the operating system’s built-in disk optimization tool. From the desktop, search for “defrag” and choose the app titled “Defragment and Optimize Drives.” Next, select the hard drive that you want to defragment, which for most PCs, is the “C” drive. After clicking and highlighting your hard drive, click the “Optimize” button at the bottom. Windows 10 will then defragment your hard drive.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to defrag your PC’s hard drive whenever it’s 10% or more fragmented. You can see the level of your hard drive’s fragmention in the Windows 10 disk optimization tool.

Other versions of Windows also support defragmenting. You can search for tutorials online for step-by-step instructions on how to defragment your hard drive in other versions of Windows.