How Many Passes Should Defrag Take in Windows 10?

It’s incredible how many people want the answer to this question. Before we get to that, however, we would like to give a brief explanation about what defrag (defragmentation) is and why you would need to do it or have it done.

Fragments or data blocks that make up files get “fragmented” (scattered around the hard disk surface) in multiple locations over time. Defragmenting potentially speeds up the time it takes to read data on the disk when accessing it because it moves the blocks. These are physically close together.

With modern computers, mechanical drives are defragmented automatically, making the process not as indispensable as it used to be. With solid-state drives, it’s not necessary at all.

As external hard disk drives might not be plugged in during automatic defrag, you might need to defrag them.

What are Passes Exactly?

Passes are the actual defragmenter that defrags the data by going through your drive. Passes involve defrag in phases. A pass analyzes, calculates, and then does the defragmenting. Starting from Windows 8 and onward, the number of passes required are detected automatically. It depends on the disk size, number of errors, SMART status, and how much time has passed since the last inspection. On a well-spaced device, it’s possible to have passes running in background. They will not compromise your computer’s performance, at least not excessively.

Defrag can take anywhere from 1-2 passes to more than 30. The number is never fixed. If third party tools are used, you can also manually set the passes required.

You don’t need to do it if you are using an SSD because the access time is equal for all sectors. On low end processors, it can take more than 30 passes and up to 10 hours. Experts recommend cleaning up your disk before launching defrag. Think about whether it’s really necessary.

How Does Defrag Work?

The first pass leaves gaps between files, putting all of them in series. The second one fills the gaps with files, using the faster parts of the drive. A drive operates not unlike a notebook, where you write text for each file. The texts are brought together by defrag, adding edits and removing spaces.

Windows 10: Defragmenting Your Hard Disk

Enter “defragment” in the search box on your taskbar. In the Start menu, click on the shortcut “Defragment and Optimize Your Drives”. The popup window that emerges will list all of the system drives that can be optimized and defragmented. As Windows 10 is able to optimize just those drives the NTFS file system formats, not all of your drives are guaranteed to show up. exFAT formatted drives won’t be on the list.

After selecting the drive you want to defrag, click on “Optimize.” This will run a defrag routine on a hard disk drive. It will run a TRIM command on SSDs, ideally speeding up your drive’s operation. With modern drives, the system does this in the background, so it’s not necessary.

The process will launch if the disk needs to be optimized and defragmented. The Current Status column will show a progress indicator with the percentages completed. When there has been a sufficient number of passes, you’ll get the updated time in the Last Run column. Your Status will say 0% fragmented or something of the sort.

Schedule Regular Sessions

By pressing “Turn On” in “Scheduled Optimization”, you can schedule regular defragmentation sessions. There will then be no need to do it manually going forward. Defragging tends to speed up computers. All storage devices have some degree of frag and it’s pretty useful. Your computer is slowed down by too much fragmentation. Defragging is a way to speed it up.

When is It Done?

When you see “OK” in the Current Status and the running progress report stops, that means your defrag is finished. There are several good defrag programs for Windows 10. Our last section will go into these briefly.

O&O Defrag Free Edition

This tool enables you to optimize your hard disks and SSDs as well as speed up your computer. It can locate and get rid of unwanted files that are filling up your memory.


  • Easy to use.
  • fragment filter identifies the worst-fragmented hard disk files
  • Gives time to view which defrag process results in successful optimization.
  • Six hard disk blocks combined into one to fragment SSD.
  • Your system and program start faster.

Systweak Advanced Disk Speedup

This powerful defrag and cleanup program runs your PC faster and cleans your hard drive. The tool helps minimize system crashes.


  • You can easily switch between the game computer and home machine.
  • It helps you to improve drive performance.
  • The tool protects your system from malware and keeps your sensitive data safe.
  • Update the necessary driver on your computer to faster your computer.


The tool also helps increase your computer speed with defragmentation. The app can defrag disks securely and safely as well as help the user organize empty disk space.


  • The tool supports full customization.
  • It can make room on drives by eliminating junk files.
  • It is compact and portable.
  • You can schedule defragmentation as often as you want.
  • Drive map to view empty blocks, non-fragmented blocks, or ones needing defrag.
  • Over 40 languages supported.

Windows’ Built-In Disk Defragmenter

This software makes it possible to increase the speed of data access by rearranging files stored on the computer. It then takes less time to read data from the disc.


  • Easy to use interface.
  • It can reduce your PC startup time.
  • Run defrag for SD cards, USB drives, or solid-state drives.

Smart Defrag

Our final choice is a deep and quick defragment tool that makes it possible to optimize hard disk and improve PC performance. Quick access to computer programs is possible.


  • App helps improve the performance of the game.
  • Boot time defrag to get your computer going faster.
  • Download this software for real-time disk status monitoring.
  • Supports multithreading
  • Enables you to defragment big files easily.