How to optimize your hard drive in Windows 8 and 8.1 — In previous versions of Windows it was important to defrag your hard drive on a regular schedule to keep your system running smooth. While it’s less important with Windows 8, there are still times when you need to run maintenance on your Hard Disk Drive (HDD).

Don’t defrag your solid state drive (SSD). The way the technology of SSD drives isn’t optimized for defragging. But, defragging your hard drive literally rewrites each of the files to different sectors on the disk. It’s extremely important back up your drive first to prevent data loss. Or if you’ve had File History enabled on a separate drive you should be good to go.

Optimize your Hard Drive in Windows 8

Windows 8 has a built in optimization tool that gives you three different types of Windows 8 Optimization Features.

  • Defragment: Rearranges the files on your hard drive in a contiguous order.
  • Trim Optimization: Informs the backing storage which blocks of data are no longer in use. This allows the storage to optimize space and performance for future use.
  • Slab Consolidation: Used primarily in thinly provisioned drives, this process rearranges data from sparsely populated slabs to densely populated slabs.
Hard Drive Optimization Chart

All Images Courtesy of Microsoft

Microsoft provides the following chart to explain how to optimize your type of drive. The chart also shows details on the differences between VHDs and Thinly provisioned drives, but unless you’re in IT you don’t need to worry about that. Or, if you do, you don’t need to read this article.

How Do I Manually Optimize My Drive?Windows 8 Settings Search

In Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 (Currently in Public Preview) hit the Windows Key + W to bring up the Setting search field and type: defrag.

Settings Result

Then click Defragment and Optimize Your Drives under the Settings results.

The Optimize Drives window opens on the desktop. Select the drive you want to optimize (typically (C:) as it’s your root local drive) and click Analyze if you want to get a status of how fragmented it is.

Optimize Hard Drive Windows 8If you want to make sure it’s defragged click the Optimize button. Unlike in Windows XP, it won’t give you a graphical representation of the sectors on the hard drive that are fragmented. It will just display a percentage of fragmentation under Current Status – In this example the drive is all good!


How Do I Schedule My Drive to Be Optimized?

ScheduleBy default Windows 8 is set to optimize your drive every 30 days, but you can change that. On the screen above click the Change Settings button. Then you can schedule it to run on the schedule you set.

Select Drives to OptimizeHere you can also select which drives in your system are optimized and to automatically optimize new drives you install.


Brian Burgess
Brian Burgess resides in Minnesota. A technology enthusiast his entire life, he worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. In addition to contributing to Tech Page One, he’s the Editor in Chief at, a contributor to Gizmag, and has written for other notable tech sites Byte, InformationWeek, and How-To Geek.
Brian Burgess
Tags: Gadgets & Devices,Software,Technology