If you put a hundred Mac technicians into a room and asked them if you should defragment your hard disk some of them would say ‘no’ some would say ‘absolutely’ and the rest would shuffle about nervously biting their lips and looking skyward. The truth is the answer is a divided one. There is no right answer.
The best advise I can give is never actually buy an application that offers to defragment your hard disk because they border on snake oil. That is not to say that there aren’t things that can be done to improve the performance of your hard disk.
If you have regular health checks then we endeavor to do these for you but if not here are the secrets.
Keep space on your hard disk.
On a regular basis have a look at your hard disk and ask yourself “what can I get rid of?” If the answer is “nothing” or you find yourself considering deleting some photos or music then stop. Similarly if you think about moving these files to another hard disk- stop. (I will get to why later)
Instead, these files have to be real junk. Old recipes. Installers downloaded that you’ve already launched. That kind of thing.
One of the best sources of junk is the Downloads folder. Every time you download something from the net Safari or Firefox will download the file to your Downloads folder where it is activated and then promptly forgotten.
Navigate to Your users folder and then Downloads. I bet you find a seemingly endless list of rubbish that can be trashed. You could save gigabytes.
Why moving files or deleting photos is not the answer.
With the introduction of Time Machine backup became mainstream and thousands of mac users were saved from that sickening feeling that comes when looking at a flashing disk icon on the screen knowing decades of work and memories has been lost. But as external hard disks became cheaper folks thought nothing of buying multiple drives and spreading their data around.
In my humble opinion this is a mistake and I often advise people to keep everything on one disk and always have a Time machine backup in place. If you start to out grow your hard disk have a bigger one fitted. If your backup hard disk starts to struggle, buy a bigger one.
The mantra is an easy one: One disk, backed up often.