Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Great Defrag Shootout: I

I must admit I'm a bit of a defrag junkie, and I have three different disk defragment programs on my laptop: the standard Windows defragmenter, which I rarely use, contig, which is a free utility, and Raxco's PerfectDisk program. So you'd think that was enough, wouldn't you?
Well, no. I have some difficult defrag needs: on my C: drive I run Microsoft SQL Server, with a 4GB data file and a 3GB log file. Because they use a lot of precious disk space, I keep these files compressed. The problem this causes is that whenever I do any major changes to the stored procedures or data, this activity changes these files. It's not uncommon to have between 300 and 500 fragments at the end of the day.
At the same time my D: drive contains temporary files generated by eMule downloads, as well as storing all my Outlook email messages. These files grow unevenly, and get fragmented as a result. The fragmentation also interferes with sound files that I edit on this drive, so I try to keep my hard drive as well-organised as possible.
The built-in Windows defrag and Diskeeper both choked on my large files, particularly when the available disk space starts getting "low" (below 20%), and the free disk space starts getting broken up into smallish pieces.
I have a batch file that uses Contig to do a quick defrag of the most troublesome directories, but it can't defragment a file if the largest block of free space is smaller than the size of the file. In that case I rely on PerfectDisk, but it can take its time to sort everything out, and even then it doesn't always do it exactly right.
So when I heard Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte raving on about another defrag program called Vopt, I decided to investigate further. I will report back on Vopt 8.18, Ashampoo Magical Defrag 2.08, O&O Defrag, and anything else that I can find. I have already written about Diskeeper and PerfectDisk, as well as Buzzsaw and Dirms.
Update 22 June 2007: What started out as a test of a few programs has grown beyond my expectations. Please check out my "Disk Defragmentation Utilities" page to find reviews of your favourite package, and further information.

The Great Defrag Shootout: Part I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX | X | XI | XII | XIII | XIV | XV | XVI | XVII | XVIII | XIX | XX | XXI | XXII | XXIII | XXIV | XXV | XXVI | XXVII | XXVIII | XXIX| winner | all | why

21 comments:

eishman said...

I heard the Security Now episode and was equally interested. Looking forward to your evaluation

Anonymous said...

I have been a Diskeeper fan and have used the free Lite version and went on to Purchase DK 10. Have read very good reviews abt their latest version.

Donn Edwards said...

Diskeeper choked on my large files when disk space was low, and the fragmentation got worse and worse. If I had any confidence in their uninstall program I would do another review, but the last time I tried to uninstall their stuff I had to edit the registry to make their software go away.

rui umbelino said...

You can also try UltimateDefrag (www.disktrix.com)... ;)mrmnikk

Anonymous said...

I have used Vopt by Golden Bow since 1988, and have NEVER had a problem with it as I have experienced with Norton Utilities' Speeddisk, PCTools, Diskeeper, Perfect Disk, etc. Even Norton has had occurrences of corrupting files; however, Vopt has consistently been bullet-proof. I have recommended it to everyone with whom I have worked with during my career as Sr. Network Engineer with the Gov't. Kenny

cheerful said...

Don't waste your time on defrag - install a proper filesystem: use ext2fsd (google for it) - it's a driver to allow you to use ext2fs (c.f. Linux) filesystem under windows. Has worked for me for months.

Jerry Chance said...

I am using 'IObit SmartDefrag Beta 3' and it does the job very well for me. Perhaps, when you are undertaking your test program, you would include it to let us know how it measures up to similar defrag programs. 'IObit SmartDefrag' is freeware and will continue running in the background should you so wish. Shall look forward to reading your results. With all good wishes.

Jerry Chance
Pembrokeshire
West Wales (UK)

Donn Edwards said...

IOBit SmartDefrag Beta 3 is on the list, but as beta software it gave me quite a few bug reports. It seems to be in permanent beta, like Google ;-)

Donn Edwards said...

"Don't waste your time on defrag - install a proper filesystem: use ext2fsd" - What are you smoking? "ext2 uses an offline defragmenter called e2defrag" (see WikiPedia) and if you honestly expect me to replace NTFS with any other file system on a commercial server of a mission-critical laptop you have got to be joking. Do you really think that Microsoft SQL Server will work better on ext2fsd? Give me a break!

brun0 said...

Nice comparison except one important thing - performance tests. It doesnt matter how pretty the disk looks after the defrag, the only thing that matters, is performance gain. Thats why were defragging, isnt it?

Donn Edwards said...

IObit SmartDefrag finally has a review: thumbs down.

Anonymous said...

I'm in the process of Beta testing Diskeeper 2008, it does great, even on HDDs with very small free space.

Beta test ends tomorrow Oct 3rd.

Anonymous said...

I'm a longtime Diskeeper user - how does 2008 look? What's new?

Anonymous said...

Seems you really don't know what you are doing.
http://www.wilderssecurity.com/showpost.php?p=1123329&postcount=4

Donn Edwards said...

He stopped reading after the 2nd paragraph, and rushed to a hasty conclusion.

See the thread

Anonymous said...

NTFS doesn't really need defragmenting any more than ext2/3 does. The whole 'defrag' addiction is a legacy of the crappy fat filesystems that suffered greatly from fragmentation.

In a modern multi-user, multi-threaded, i/o caching operating system, the whole premise that disk i/o efficiency is related to contiguous storage is flawed. This is particularly true when using modern storage devices that add an additional layer of i/o caching and optimizing (e.g., onboard cache, native command queuing, etc.).

"Defraggers" should be used only if a filesystem begins to exhibit significant performance degradation. When that happens, just move it and the copy operation will result in 100% defragmentation.

Poorly-implemented, "defraggers" can do more harm than good, not to mention the cpu cycles and electricity they waste.

Donn Edwards said...

Your advice on caution and restraint is well taken, but also see the why article as well.

Anonymous said...

Donn, one of my fellow posters brought up some valid points in regards to your testings.

You may want to have a look.
http://www.wilderssecurity.com/showpost.php?p=1123329&postcount=4

Donn Edwards said...

This turned out to be really positive discussion, with some great suggestions and ideas.

See the thread
http://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?p=1123329

Anonymous said...

I have used all of these free defragmenters, but the only one that is really worth it is not Diskeeper, the Windows default defragger, Auslogics, or any of those. The best and only good one is IObit SmartDefrag.

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Ever used mst Defrag (http://www.mstsoftware.com/en/Products/mst-Defrag)? IMHO a programm with a very interesting approach - the author calls it proactive defragmentation.


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