Defragmenting a Mac OS X hard disk

This content is 17 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Apple claims that OS X is the world’s most advanced operating system. If that’s the case, then why does it lack basic system utilities? That’s a rhetorical question, but I’ve written before about OS X’s lack of a decent backup utility and today (including most of tonight – hence the time of this post) I fell foul of its inability to defragment hard disks.

“ah… but you don’t need a defragmentation utility with OS X because it automatically defragments as it goes.”

[insert name of just about any Macintosh support forum here]


OS X defragments files, but not the disk itself (for an explaination as to what that really means and as to whether it’s really necessary, refer to Randy B Singer’s Mac OS X maintenance and troubleshooting guide). This inability to perform what should be a basic operating system function (even Windows has the capability) has cost me a lot of time today. In fairness, there is a third party utility availabilty (if I was prepared to pay for it), called iDefrag (Paul Stamatiou has a review of iDefrag on his site) but in the end, I used Mike Bombich’s Carbon Copy Cloner to clone my hard disk to my backup drive, make that bootable, repartition my system disk, and then clone the drive back again – a pretty long winded approach to defragmentation.

Still, every cloud has a silver lining… at least this process led me to discover the the Mac OS X maintenance and troubleshooting guide that I referred to earlier… well worth a read.

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