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Is frequent defragging damaging to your hard drive?

Many years ago we were told that frequent defragging was or could be damaging to your hard drive. Is this still true or is it false?
With the obvious caveat that there's an exception to every rule, hard drive resiliency has improved a great deal in recent years, and the MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) for most hard disks is more than enough to withstand regular defragmenting. However, since Murphy was an optimist I will always recommend maintaining and testing backups of your data, especially on mission-critical servers.
This was last published in September 2004

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