We understand why many want to learn how to defrag a Mac. It normally makes the computer faster and even more responsive without you having to sacrifice anything – including money.
And while that definitely sounds great, you may not want to do this with a Macbook. The situation is a bit more complicated than you may think. But, long story short, chances are that your Mac’s speed won’t improve at all and that you’ll actually end up damaging it in the long run.
Want to learn more about this? Then keep on reading!
What is Disk Fragmentation and Defragmentation?
Hard drives use actual moving parts to write data on their platter. Their head needs to physically move around to write different data in different physical locations. And that could be anything from documents to programs. It doesn’t make much of a difference for us.
As time goes on, we delete various types of files and programs while also writing more in-between. That’s why after a certain point, data is no longer written in a straight line. There are many small empty spaces in the platter that the computer utilizes to write data on. The only problem with this is that the drive’s head needs to physically jump between various parts of the platter to access a file that has been split into multiple parts – and that’s what we call fragmentation.
Sure, that may be an overly simplified explanation. But, you get the point. Defragmentation, on the other hand, is when we use some sort of program that re-arranges everything on the drive so that files will no longer be fragmented and scattered all over the place in small parts.
There are a lot of programs that can help you defragment both Macs and Windows PCs. And once upon a time, defragmenting a hard drive was essential in order to keep your computer feeling as fast and snappy as the first day that you got it. Except, not only it’s no longer needed – but you could also be damaging your device by trying to do this.
Why You Shouldn’t Defragment a Mac
So, to wrap things up, defragmenting your HDD can make a computer feel faster and more responsive. Except, there are a couple of big issues with that in 2020:
- Macbooks come with SSDs instead of HDDs
- Defragmentation is being done automatically on Macs anyway (At least after macOS 10.2 and that’s when there is an HDD installed)
First of all, chances are that your Mac is using an SSD – not an HDD. The two drive technologies work very differently. But, the one thing that concerns us here is that HDDs have mechanical, moving parts – whereas SSDs do not.
That’s why your SSD/Mac can’t really get fragmented. And this applies to most modern computers as well with a few exceptions in servers and things like that.
The only time when you can manually defrag a Mac is when you’re using an HDD and it’s more than 90% full. That’s because the utilities that automatically defragment the drive under normal usage can’t work effectively when your drive is almost full. But, that’s about it.
And that being said, you should never, ever defragment an SSD. Writing files on these drives shortens their lifespan little by little. Sure, they can generally endure thousands and thousands of gigabytes – but why even use a megabyte for defragmentation when it’s not needed? SSDs don’t have moving parts. They don’t care about fragmentation. It doesn’t make a difference to you.
If after all that you still wish to learn how to defrag a Mac, be our guest.
How to Defrag a Mac
There are a ton of 3rd party apps that allow you to defragment HDDs. You can do the research and pick whatever you like – but we’d personally recommend iDefrag.
It’s one of the easiest programs to use. You just install it, select the drive you want to defragment, and that’s about it. If it’s your boot drive, then you’ll have to reboot as well.
That said, as we mentioned above, pretty much every single Mac nowadays uses an SSD for booting. So, chances are that you won’t have to worry about that. And that’s more or less all there is to it!
How to Defrag a Mac: Wrapping Up
That’s how to defrag a Mac – and also why you generally don’t have to. Again, do not even attempt to defragment the SSD of your Mac. Not only it won’t make a difference, but it may also shorten its overall lifespan – if only for a little.
If you’ve got any questions, feel free to let us know about them in the comments section down below and the WTLS team will try to get back to you as quickly as possible.