The data storage space on a disk is divided into discrete units. These units are called clusters. When files are written to the disk, they are broken up into cluster-sized pieces. When all of the file pieces are located in adjacent or contiguous clusters, the file can be accessed quickly.

Your computer's hard disk stores all of your files, applications, and the Windows operating system. The bits of information that make up your files gradually spread over the disk. This process is known as fragmentation. The more that you use your computer, the more fragmented the hard disk gets.

The operating system tries to store file data in contiguous sectors on the disk, so that the drive heads can move sequentially, reading each sector in turn. When a file is deleted, the operating system tries to reclaim that deleted space. If a new file being written is bigger than the contiguous space available, the operating system will have to fragment the file. Reading and writing now involves the drive heads having to move across the disk to find all the fragments of the file, thus, slowing down the process. Over time, more files are added and deleted, which increases this fragmentation and lowers the performance of the computer. Defragmentation is the rearranging of these sectors so that file data is stored contiguously.

Optimization rearranges file fragments into adjacent or contiguous clusters. When the drive head accesses all of the file data in one location, the file is read into the memory faster. Optimization also maximizes the usable free space on a disk by grouping most frequently used files and infrequently used files. Optimization consolidates free space to avoid fragmenting newly added files. It adds extra space after major data structures so that they can grow without immediately becoming fragmented again.

You can optimize your boot volume manually by using the Optimize option in the Graphs window.

You can also configure Norton to defragment your boot volume or the local disk that contains boot volume when your computer is idle. Norton automatically schedules the optimization when it detects the installation of an application on your computer. The optimization process starts next time when your computer is idle.

You can use the Idle Time Optimizer option in the Administrative Settings window to optimize the boot volume during idle time.

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DOCID: v23920582_ns_retail_en_us
Operating System: Windows
Last modified: 06/19/2017