Friday, May 11, 2007

The Great Defrag Shootout VII: O&O Defrag V8.6 Professional

It's difficult to know what to make of O&O Defrag V8.6 Professional. On the surface it has everything a defragmentation program should have, and more. But what do you make of a program that gives up on defragmenting a file simply because there isn't enough free space available? Apart from uninstalling it, that is.
The first thing that caught my attention was that Raxco (the publishers of PerfectDisk) do a comparison between their product and the O&O product. Methinks they protest too much. They should do a comparative review with Vopt, not O&O Defrag. But I digress.
The first good point is that the interface on installation is clear, well organised and incredibly useful. You can see exactly what is happening on your hard drive, and the pie chart is an interesting touch. Click on any block on the drive map and you'll see all the files it contains. The reports are clearly laid out and contain useful information, and you can go back a few days if required. I set mine to 5 days.
The second good point is that they have a defrag screen saver. Whenever your machine isn't being used you can get it to tidy up the disk. This is a brilliant idea, and although the graphics are somewhat cheesy (Why does the disk image need to rotate in 3D anyway?) the information that is displayed in the bottom left is helpful and thorough.
The down side of the screen saver is that it cancels any other manual defrag job you may have been running at the time, even if the job parameters are the same. O&O tech support confirmed that it's a "feature", not a bug.
The third good point is there is a boot-time defrag option, to get rid of those nasty fragmented files that you can't tackle when Windows is running. PerfectDisk only allows certain file types to be defragmented at boot time; Diskeeper and O&O Defrag will defrag any file.
The down side of this is that O&O Defrag simply "bails out" on any files it doesn't feel like defragmenting, i.e. if there isn't sufficient free disk space. It doesn't only do this during the boot time defrag (click on screen shot above), but at any other time as well (see top screen shot, taken after several attempts at defragmenting the hard drive). This is my main reason for uninstalling the product: why use a defrag program that can't defragment the files? I could understand if the file was huge and the available free space was tiny, but this is not the case. The mind boggles.
What's worse is that there isn't any predictable pattern to this behaviour. When I did my normal test of copying a large file into a compressed folder and then using the data to restore my SQL Server database, I landed up with one file that Windows had fragmented into 399000 fragments! Using the O&O Defrag Manager program I tried a "Stealth" defrag. Nothing. Then a "Space" defrag. Again nothing. Only the "Complete/Name" option made a difference, and it took 8 hours to do so, even though I had run it the day before. But the "Complete/Name" option fragmented a ZIP file that wasn't previously fragmented, and now the software doesn't have a clue how to defragment it again. It got sorted out on the reboot, but 6 other files it had similarly fragmeneted remain fragmented. Time to uninstall.
This product takes its time, even when you change from the default and tell it to use all available resources. I get the feeling that my normal disk activity is creating fragments faster that O&O Defrag can keep up. I'm not paying $49.95 for this package, even though it is well written and well put together. If it doesn't do its primary job, it just isn't worth it.
My next review package is a freeware product I found mentioned on Digg.com: JkDefrag 3.8.
Update: Version 10 has been released. I will probably review it later.

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

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