The filesystem consists of various, differently-sized portions of free space, separate from one another. When hard drives become full, the filesystem needs to begin using smaller, and smaller portions of free space to store data. As such, it will start to split files into smaller chunks and spread them to free portions at different locations on the disk -- i.
First, the filesystem avoids using space recently freed by recently deleted files whenever possible, looking instead to potentially larger, already free portions of the disk first. Second, Mac OS X Finally, Mac OS X First of all, though they can reduce fragmentation of extant files, they can also cause remaining free portions on the disk to become smaller in size, potentially leading to more fragmentation down the road as new files are written. Second, the automatic defragmentation routines will not work on certain files -- specifically those above 20 MB nor those fragmented into 8 or fewer segments.
Back to the effectiveness of disk cloning and susceptibility of large files to fragmentation: obviously larger files are more likely to be fragmented because they require more disk space, and as such may occupy many separate portions of the filesystem.
Generally, cloning a disk with tool like SuperDuper!
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No data is being added to any particular file, meaning said file will not spill into other unused portions. As such, the disk clone will have files that are stored in more contiguous segments than the original. When you copy the entire filesystem back to the formatted original drive, the same structure will remain intact. Disk optimization is a different process from defragmentation, with a different end.
Rather than concerning single files split into multiple chunks and strewn across the disk as with fragmentation , optimization deals with the organization of related files -- or those commonly accessed together -- into logical groups for enhanced performance quicker access. Some of the most crucial files in this regard are those depended upon to launch applications. Literally dozens of frameworks are accessed each time a Cocoa application is launched, and if they are spread out in far-reaching locations on the disk, launch time can slow significantly.
How can these files become disorganized, as it were?
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One of the major culprits lies in system updates. When Mac OS X is first installed, it logically groups files close together on the disk to enhance performance.
When a major system update -- such as an incremental Mac OS X release -- is applied, however, the old frameworks need to be deleted, and new frameworks need to be written. Unfortunately, the new framework version usually is not and cannot be written to the same portion of disk space occupied by the old framework version. Instead, it may be written at a location far away from the original group of critical, application-launch related frameworks. This where disk optimization utilities like iDefrag come into play.
The tool comes with pre-defined layouts for the files in Mac OS X that the developers have identified as the most universally applicable for increased performance the best speed for the greatest number of users , but you can also create your own "class sets" that allow customized grouping of files. Some critical, oft-used system files were also significantly fragmented, including the Spotlight database.
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The Spotlight database and some other files like caches, the sleepimage file used to store RAM contents for safe sleep, the Mail. As such, they are like to quickly re-fragment after a defragmentation is performed.
How to Defrag a Mac? Is it Necessary?
So your Mac isn't performing as well as it used to and needs a speed boost. After all, it made your old PC run a lot faster. Apple, on the other hand, has never included defragging software in macOS. Well, there are a number of reasons why Macs don't offer a defrag function:.
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- How To Safely Defrag a Mac Hard Drive.
- Does a Mac need disk defragmentation??
When a file is saved to a PC hard drive it fills the available space in an efficient way. Kind of like in the image below, which incidentally is of a Mac app that is no longer available. If you want to save a large file - a video, for example - it might need to be spread, or fragmented, over a number of these gaps. The PC knows where the parts of the file are, but if there are a lot of fragmented files it can take a long time for it to find all the necessary parts before opening the file.
By defragging the drive the files are all shuffled back in order to fill any holes that have appeared when files were deleted - which should avoid files being fragmented in future - and fragmented files are put together. If any of the following applies to you we would suggest that defraging is not the solution to your problem:.
Then in Mac OS X A year later, in , Hot File Adaptive Clustering arrived, which identifies files that are frequently accessed but rarely updated and moves them to a special area of the drive, defragging them during the process.
How to defrag a Mac (and why you don't need to)
Like its predecessor, APFS automatically defragments your drive on the fly, although it works a little differently as it creates snapshots of files so you can access different versions of the same files. Chances are that if you are having a problem with your Mac it is unrelated to fragmented files. We have this guide to using Disk Utility here , and also various troubleshooting tips for fixing a Mac.