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Do SSDs Need Defragmentation?

Ben Erickson  November 7 2018 10:18:04
Ben Erickson
I was at a client site yesterday and the question of defragmentation came up. They have replaced their hard drives in their workstations with SSDs. There is a lot of information, mis-information, and confusion out there about Defragmentation, Windows, and SSDs.

Image:Do SSDs Need Defragmentation?
Old school defrag from the Windows 95/98/ME days

Part of the defrag confusion comes from the evolution of storage over the last decade or so. Solid State Drives (SSDs) and mechanical hard drives (HDDs) simply are not the same kind of device. They perform the same function of containing logical filesystems, but SSDs aren't just faster or better than HDDs, they are a different animal. Another part of the confusion is that there has been a lack of transparency among and between drive manufacturers, Microsoft, and their customers. There has also been confusion stemming from the evolution of SSDs from the very fragile first generation drives, to the more robust second generation drives, to the even newer M.2 form factor "SSDs" which really could benefit from a new name at this point (should we really even call them drives anymore?).

If you're interested in seeing some legitimate debate between industry experts, Microsoft reps, and ordinary customers sharing their own experiments and results, please see this (personal)
blog post by Scott Hanselman, a Microsoft employee, but especially read the comment section to see this is a muddy issue. Here are some other worthy mentions if you want to dig deeper from PC World and a storage software company, EaseUS, each adding their different opinions to the soup along with their reasons which seem to make sense.

Where do I weigh in on the subject? What do I think is the bottom line after all the voices have been heard?

Both sides are right in a sense. Fragmentation is an outdated concept that is obsolete when you don't have mechanical needles and spinning disks anymore. But Microsoft filesystems, especially NTFS, are based on the assumptions of the old mechanical hard drives. So they can "think" they are fragmented even though it's impossible, which causes its own problems. Microsoft claims that with SSDs, their defragment tool and scheduled tasks do SSD trimming and Garbage Collection (GC) instead of defragmenting. But this is not completely true. If you observe the process and the log outputs, it is undeniably still virtually trying to defragment your SSD, which in real terms means that it's doing some good stuff (TRIM and GC) but also some bad stuff (pointlessly moving files around, which decreases the life of the SSD).

There is a way to get Microsoft Windows to play nice with your SSDs and it's outlined in this excellent post on

Here's the basic idea:

1. MS Windows is trimming AND "defragmenting" your SSD by default.

2. This has been reported to Microsoft and has largely been denied/ignored (boo!).

3. You can fix this. But don't just turn all the maintenance off, which would be even worse. Do #4 instead.

4. You can hack it (change what the scheduled defrag task does) by exporting it, changing it, then importing it back into the task scheduler.

This has been a fairly detailed technical post, and it would be easy to be overwhelmed by the detail. Instead of being overwhelmed, why not give us a call? At Trusted Computer Consulting, we have over a decade of experience in helping businesses with their difficult-to-grasp IT issues by simplifying them and implementing tested solutions that work. Give us a call today!

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