iDefrag. Do you defrag? The answer for most Mac users is probably “No”. Yet Windows folks have known the dubious pleasures of defragmenting their drives since time immemorial. Or rather, Windows 95, as it’s better known in IT circles.
What the heck are we talking about? Over time, as data is written to a computer’s hard drive, the space starts to fill up with information. Ideally, a single file – whether it’s an application or data file – should inhabit contiguous space on your drive. However, if there’s insufficient room in one allocation, the rest might be dumped where it can be fitted elsewhere on the disk. That’s called fragmentation, and it slows down your system over time.
Us Mac users have long been told that we don’t really need to defragment our drives. Mac OS X automatically optimises files after every software update, for example. However, Mac hard drives do get fragmented too, and iDefrag can undo that for you in a way that is less destructive than Apple’s default solution, which is to erase your disk and perform a reinstall.
iDefrag is very similar to defragmenters that are found on PCs, rebooting your machine so it can scan, then reorder, the data clusters on your unmounted drive. Alternatively, you can perform a more limited defrag on a drive that is currently in use. We’re particularly impressed by the fact that with this software you can target individual files and even Time Machine volumes too.
If your Mac usage is high and especially if you’re doing a lot of work with massive media files that will take up a lot of room, iDefrag should be part of your toolset and treated as an application that you run as part of your regular maintenance routine. More casual users may find it does more than they need.