Why can some files on my hard drive not be defragmented in Windows?

Boyd August 23, 2010

I am trying to defrag my son’s hard drive. I get the message the “some files on this volume could not be defragmented”. What do I do to correct this?

  1. suri
    August 24, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    The Windows defragger has many limitations, it may not defrag properly if you have low free space/ if there are some programs interrupting the defrag etc. If you run into problems often, simply get a fully automatic tool that does th job effortlessly even in less free space and while other programs run.

  2. Band225
    August 23, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Thanks to all for your help. When I got to my Son's his 40 gig HD was full. I helped him put on an external HD, we moved all of his My Documents to that drive, removed all unused programs, ran chkdsk and defraged. It is running better. I tried to talk him into reformatting and starting over, but he does not have his original XP software

  3. Steve Campbell
    August 23, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    It looks to me like either your files are fresh out of frag or their relationship with the defragmenter has worn thin. :)Honestly, it's nothing to worry about. Defragmenting your computer can be a good way to get some performance back, but you're going to experience some issues as time goes on and your computer gets older. I personally recommend backing up your files and reformatting your hard drive every year or two. It's the easiest way to get the most back in performance and once you learn how to do it you'll know forever.If you're running anything like a dual core processor or better, I don't think you really even need to defragment. If your computer is running Windows XP, which I think it is, defragging maybe once a month would be good for it, but you should also look into uninstalling unused programs, clearing out all the temp files, and removing unnecessary entries from your startup configuration.

  4. Oron Joffe
    August 23, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Boyd, as Tina says, files that are in use cannot be defragged. Some files will _always_ in use (e.g. the files that make up the degragmenter software), but if you want to do a thorough job, you can start Windows in Safe Mode (when booting up the computer, press [F8] and choose 'safe mode' from the list). In this mode, Windows starts up the least programs it can, so you'll be able to defragment more files. It's a good idea to do this from time to time, but bear in mind that Windows is much slower in this mode so the process will take a lot longer.

  5. Tina
    August 23, 2010 at 5:52 pm


    this is an error message I wouldn't worry too much about. The files probably cannot be defragmented because they are currently in use.

    If you are still worried, please copy and paste the defagmentation report, so that we can have a look which sectors and files are affected. Otherwise it's difficult to suggest a solution.