Why Defragmentation is Unnecessary in Linux

Many users of Windows, even inexperienced ones, know that you need to defrag the hard drive regularly to speed up the performance of their computers. However, if you use Linux, you do not need to defrag your Linux partitions at all. In this article, I will explain to you why you don’t need defragmentation when using Linux.

About Disk Fragmentation

A hard disk drive has a number of sectors on it, each sector contains a small piece of data. To save a file, its data will be stored across a number of different sectors. When you have many files stored on your file system, each of these will be stored in a contiguous cluster of sectors. So when you write a new file, especially a big one, it will be split into multiple pieces. And when the hard disk tries to read the file, its heads must jump around between different physical locations on the hard drive to read each piece of data. And this makes the reading process slow.

How File Systems Work in Microsoft Windows

Microsoft Windows use two file systems, FAT and NTFS. These two file systems will be fragmented over time since they do not arrange data across the hard disk cleverly. When you write a file on the hard disk in Windows, it will save the file at the location nearest to the start of the disk. When you save a second file, it saves it right after the first one – and so on. This leaves no nearby room for the original file to grow into. Therefore when the original files grow in size, they will always become fragmented.

Because of the way these file systems work, they need to be defragmented regularly to stay at peak performance. Microsoft has alleviated this problem by running the defragmentation process in the background on the latest versions of Windows

How it works in Linux

Linux file systems allocate data in a more intelligent way than their Windows counterparts. Instead of storing multiple files close to each other on the hard disk, Linux places different files all over the disk, leaving a large enough amount of free space between them. So when a file is edited and needs to grow, there’s usually plenty of free space for it to grow into.

Because of that, fragmentation only occurs in Linux if your hard disk is nearly full. So if you suspect that fragmentation is happening on your Linux box, you probably need a larger hard disk. By the same token, in normal cases when there is still free space on your hard drive, you can use Linux without the need of defragmentation.


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