Defragmenting on the Mac

by postbreak

Every time I talk about defragmenting on Macs there seems to be an uproar. Switchers tend to be stumped when trying to defrag and Mac loyalists cry impostor. If there is one thing I have learned about the Mac filesystem is that it fragments just like its Windows counterpart. The problem with defragmenting a Mac is that you have to unmount the drive, forcing you to boot off of another device. Even before you get that far you need to find an application to actual defragment the drive. Let the frustration begin.

So you want to defrag your Mac? Get ready to spend some money because for some reason Apple doesn’t include a native defragment tool. Apple recommends that you do not defragment or “Optimize” because current hard drives are so large and so efficient that filling up the entire drive will be a non issue. I don’t know about you but I tend to fill up my hard drives so defragmenting is a must.

Before I list the applications out there I want to talk about why I defragment my hard drives. My main drive is only 160GB with about 20GB remaining. As a linux follower I tend to repartition and install the latest and greatest OS that comes out. This means I spend a lot of time moving my data around to make room for another install. Without defragmenting my hard drive this would be impossible. If you constantly find yourself deleting files to make space you should highly consider defragmenting.

There are a few options when it comes to defragmenting you drive. iDefrag is a popular option for this task. The $29.95 application includes the ability to defragment a small portion of your drive while booting from it (something the other tools don’t have). The application also includes a tool to create a bootable CD for defragmenting your main booting OS. Of all the options out there this one is the cheapest and offers the unique online defragment tool.

The application I use for defragmenting and all other sorts of disk manipulation is Drive Genius. Drive Genius includes the ability to defragment, repartition on the fly, repair, clone, and even sector edit if things get really bad. The ability to do all of these advanced commands with a wonderful GUI comes at a price. The $99 price tag is a bit hard to get past at first when you think about the limited uses you will get out of this application however I consider it one of those “Save your ass” type of applications. You’ll be glad it’s there when you need it. If the Apple Store uses this application behind the scenes then I figure you might as well take a look at it.

A third option would be Tech Tool Pro by Micromat. I have not used this application so I wont go into detail however it looks to contain all the features of Drive Genius and a few more. At around $99 it is priced to compete.

I hate defragmenting. The whole process can take hours and the outcome can have seemingly little results. Every 2 months or so I defragment my main drive because I am constantly changing it around. With the addition of a larger drive I will thankfully be doing it a lot less.