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I usually do backups using backup solutions like Norton Ghost. Is it advisable to do defragmentation of the drive before taking a drive image? Will that offer any advantages when I restore from the drive image later?

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I would. It won't keep anything from working, but it will probably fit in a smaller package. If you're backing up regular, and the defragmentation takes a long time, then I'd skip it.

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A well defragmented disk will allow for better compression in the backups, so the output files should be smaller. It can also help to zero out blank portions of the disk (eraser can do this), which is also good for security.

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Why do you say that it will help compression? My understanding of ghost is that it reads the file from the hd, and writes it to the image, thus removing any fragmentation from it in the process anyhow. –  psusi Jan 13 '11 at 20:42

Yes, defragmentation before backup/imaging is a good idea. There are several benefits: (a) image size will be smaller than if it was fragmented and you save some space (b) if you restore from the image, you'll get a fragmentation-free (or nearly) install and (c) the backup process will be faster since the drive can access the files sequentially and quickly.

If you're already running an automatic background defragger on the system, then the drive must be pretty much free of fragmentation, so you're good to go. Otherwise just run a defrag before the imaging step.

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