Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Great Defrag Shootout, and all the defragmentation utilities I can find

The new defrag web site is under construction, and all this information will eventually land up there. It takes time to get these results, because testing is done on Windows XP, Windows Vista 32-bit and Vista 64-bit environments, and numerous tests are carried out. Windows 7 testing will be added only once the final product actually ships.
Check below for information on other packages, and the 2007 winners of the previous "Great Defrag Shootout".

I have listed all the utilities below, as they fleetingly appeared on the Wikipedia defragmentation article before they were removed by the Wiki trolls.

Boot time defrag programs (explained):

Commercial defrag utilities for Windows:
Freeware defrag utilities for Windows:
* Combined setup for these excellent utilities available for download on my new defrag page.
Defrag t-shirt design @ SplitReason.com
Update: Having tested all the freeware packages listed, and the majority of the commercial ones, I have concluded the shootout and announced the "winners". Also check out the Disk Defragmentation Utilities page.

Disclaimer: None of the products reviewed were supplied as "freebies" by their respective companies, and they were not aware of the fact that I was reviewing the product until the review was posted. I have not solicited any financial favours from anyone during this process either. I write this because of the comment posted on the Paragon review, and because Raxco has provided a discount coupon code for blog readers. I have not reviewed defrag products where you have to buy them first in order to see if they actually work. All the commercial products listed have a free trial period.

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 | XXX | XXXI | winner | all | why | digg this article

63 comments:

barfarf said...

Your list of reviews for defraggers is amazing. I have beena long time user of perfect disk 8 and now i am going to try some of the ones you gave a thumbs up on. This should be a top digg article.

Donn Edwards said...

Thanks for putting the article on Digg. I have added a link. Don't give up on PerfectDisk 8 just yet.

joe rawlins said...

I have been a long time user of Defrag Manager, and have been very pleased with it's ease of use, ability to defrag very full disks, and no agent required on remote systems. I guess it is dead since Microsoft acquired Winternals.

Anonymous said...

IObit.com check it out. saw your article link in Gizmo's newsletter. A very informative article thks.

Brett W said...

i was a little suprised to not see a full review of ultimate defrag from disktrix which has been a staple of mine for a while now, but i did see you gave it a thumbs up in the list of all the progs, just curious as to your thoughts on this prog

Donn Edwards said...

I have tried IOBit but it's BETA software and kept giving me bug reports. I will cover it in a separate review, along with mstDefrag 2.0 Beta.

Donn Edwards said...

Brett, there is a full review of DiskTrix UltimateDefrag

D said...

Outstanding review. I'm bleary eyed reading it. I went through at one time maybe a third of these with no where near the documenting you did. I wanted to add the one thing I found that I don't think you mentioned. I still use win2k and had setup an ntfs media volume with the nonstandard 32K blocksize. (4k standard) I thought it would make sense minimizing fragments and speeding up access. It turms out WDD and all the defraggers using the windows calls cannot defrag non 4k cluster ntfs on W2k. The only one I found was an old norton speed disk from around the time of NT I believe. It complains that it doesn't recognize the drive properly but I've used it for 2 years this way with no problems.
I was also interested to see vopt. I recall that somehow they were related to a group of tools I used for drive maint back in the dos days called mace utils. They never looked as good as norton but always worked better. I also wanted to thank you for standing up to diskeeper. It has to be the winner of the most hyped least useful program ever. Whats amazing is they know what we want. I can tell by their marketing. It just won't do it. Thanks again I will still need to reread your review just to decide what util to try next.
Damon

dave said...

G'day Prof Donn,
here's one more:
cheers,
dj

UltraDefrag is powerful Open Source defragmentation tool for Windows NT.
It's engine is very fast, because it is created as kernel-mode driver.
They are three interfaces to them: graphical, console and native.
First is very useful, because it use cluster map visualization. Console is good
for task scheduler, and native tool - for advanced users and programmers.

Design of the UltraDefrag is very ergonomic: no skins, no localization,
no animation and so on. It's true small and powerful program!

It can be used on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista.
NT 4.0 support is currently unavailable.

http://ultradefrag.sourceforge.net/#news

leland said...

Thanks Donn, these reviews are very useful. I too found PerfectDisk to be the most to my liking. I never liked Diskeeper; I never liked the idea of leaving the free space fragmented like that. I had actually been playing with the idea of doing a defragger myself because I did not really like how any of them worked until I tried PerfectDisk. That was back at version 5 and it was definitely ahead of the pack at the time. I still think back to the defraggers on the Amiga and how much more efficient they were at their tasks. I wish we could find something more like that for windows. At least we have PerfectDisk.

I would like to second the request to ask for a review of UltraDefrag, I just started playing with it yesterday and it looks promising, though I haven't used it enough to comment beyond that.

Also, I noticed a GUI was released for JKDefrag which I would like to hear what you think of. You can find it at:

http://www.emro.nl/freeware/

It seems like it written by someone other than the JKDfrag author, but it looks potentially useful too. It seems to add a lot of functionality to JKDreag. Thanks again.

Donn Edwards said...

IObit SmartDefrag finally has a review: thumbs down.

The JkDefrag GUI is amazing, and includes a stable version of JKD as well as a GUI interface.

Anonymous said...

First, thanks tons for the great reviews... read all of them and foudn them very imformative. Appreciate the effort you put into this for us out there :)

It confirms my choice of JKDefrag as my main tool. I've also learned about NTREGOPT, Contig and its GUI and Pagedefrag. More tools to help keep my HDs in good shape.


I was surprised to notice that IOBit Smartdefrag wasn't part of your reviews though. It's freeware and altho I use JKDefrag now, it seemed to do a decent job (not an expert myself, so I can't really say for sure how good it is compared to the other ones).

So, thanks again and great work!

_Rej_

P.S. Dugged it ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi again,

Just noticed your review of IOBit Smartdefrag just after I wrote my previous comment ;)

I'm glad you had the patience and the know how to test it thouroughly (3 nights in a row where it didn't defrag files that weren't being used... etc).

Now I know/feel that I made the right choice with JKDefrag.

_Rej_

Anonymous said...

You've given thumbs up to Paragon Total Defrag 2007. I disagree with you. Here's a simple way to mess up your files with PTD : copy three movies to the hard drive (Star Trek episodes for instance), then reboot your computer with Paragon bootable CD. Defragment your hard drive and reboot your PC. Launch Nero ShowTime (or any other DVD player) and you'll find out that Paragon has mixed up scenes from one movie with scenes from another. It happened to me and I wasn't amused at all (even the freebie JkDefrag didn't do that).

Kevin Murray

Donn Edwards said...

Ouch! Are you able to repeat the error, or did it happen just once? What does Paragon support have to say about this?

Anonymous said...

I didn't try to repeat the error since it happened only to videos (.vob), not to other big files (exe, pdf, ...). I never contacted Paragon support staff because I'm used to scouring forums and places like that.

Kevin

Mark said...

Goeie dag meneer! I find that I cannot defrag a TrueCrypt volume on Vista (with up to date patches). Using TrueCrypt 4.3a (latest). There are threads at the TC forum about this ("Vista built-in defrag fails"). Also, the TC volumes do not appear in Vista Disk Management window, but they do in XP's Disk Management. Any solutions?

Donn Edwards said...

It sounds like one of the many bugs in Vista. You could try using JkDefrag to defrag the TrueCrypt volume. I haven't tested it, but it is likely to work.

Anonymous said...

Could you do a review of the new Diskeeper 2008 (just released)? I'd be interested in your thoughts, given your scathing comments on DK2007.
Oliver

´gnor said...

OOPS!

My file is not on my USB stick and my machine is currently broken.

Look at the jkDefrag forum for my thread "To Defrag or Not to Defrag"

I stung quite into a wasps' netst there!;-)

I grew up about 30 years ago on a mainframe no more complex then a PC/XT or /AT shared with 50 users and 768KB core clocked at audio frequency of 16kHz 49 bits wide instead of VHF and mobile phone frequencies today at 64 bit. Speed hasn't improved since then.

Global warmup will call for us (50+) old hackers that can count clocks and bytes real soon now, OOP is too costly, there was an old proverb: "Windows maketh programs amble instead of run!"

Donn Edwards said...

I assume you're referring to the To Defrag or Not to Defrag thread.

"Conclusion: Defraggers are obsolete now, only an issue for some software providers, and probably for harddisk vendors."

Yawn

Anonymous said...

Your machine is currently broken because you never defragged. Silly boy.

Anonymous said...

q1. Has anyone ever seen or heard of "DiskMagik" by Rose City Software and how does it stack up against the best of the winners?

Or

There is a suggestion for Vista, XP, & 2000 users [vistarewired.com/2007/02/15/defragment] of using Winternals (now Microsoft) Contig program together with eXcessive Software's free program PowerDefragmenter v2.

q2. How does this stack up against the 3 winners?

Donn Edwards said...

Thanks for the tip on DiskMagik.

Contig and PowerDefragmenter are reviewed, and Contig is included in my install of JkDefrag and other utilities. It's a useful utility.

cmptrmaster said...

Mr. Edwards,

After reading your reviews, I still haven't come to a conclusion in my situation. I have a Win2K3 (business) server that hosts about 1.2TB of data. This is compressed data with an actual uncompressed size of approx 1.9TB. The drives are in RAID5. I ran the Windows Defrag analysis of the volume and, as expected due to amount of activity that accurs on the server every day, the fragmentation is through the roof. I need a tool that can manage this quantity of data on it's own without much intervention by system administrators. Do you have any recommendations?

Thank you in advance for your inputs.

Donn Edwards said...

Start with PerfectDisk 2008 Server edition, and try it out for the 30 day trial period.

My guess is that a scheduled defrag during a quiet period (say 2am) will be fine.

I will be extremely surprised if PD doesn't handle the load.

MerleOne said...

About DiskMagic : it's basically a rebranded version of mstDefrag 2.0. Rose City Software did confirm this to me some time ago. About Paragon Total Defrag : I also agree it's quite dangerous. If for any reason the process is halted before it's completed, the filesystem gets heavily corrupted. Lastly, I currently find PuranDefrag 4.5 to be almost perfect : fast, disk very efficently defragmented afterwards, many useful command line options, not expensive and safe since it relies on Microsoft Defrag API. Doesn't defrag the MFT though.

Anonymous said...

One particular program I have, FS Navigator for Flight simulator, starts in 10 seconds after any other defragmenter; after Paragon, it starts in 2 seconds. I think Paragon is the only tool that defragments offline, during system boot.

Their defragementer is included only only in total defrag, but with all other products as well - disk manager, partition manager....

Anonymous said...

Hi Donn,

Your Reviews are outstanding! Any chance you testing the NEW TuneUp Utilities 2008 - TuneUp Drive Defrag module? It looks very interesting imo:
http://www.tune-up.com/products/tuneup-utilities/news/
Cheers

Peter said...

Iobit Smart Defrag has been updayed to version 5 (still Beta but its "beta than nothing" - badoom boom tish!) It's quite a lot better than V3 and seems to play much nicer on an Active Directory domain. I use four defrag tools on my XP Sp2 and 3 c;ients PCs: Windows dfrg.msc, SysInternals (now MS) pagedefrag, AusLogics Disk defrag (nice and fast with a simple GUI) and Iobit Smart Defrag. JKDefrag shall definitely be added to my Windows defrag toolkit - (probably in place of the latter two). They are handy and easy to config for your average user though.

PeterSW

Marvin said...

PerfectDisk 2008 is total and utter CRAP! How can you say it is a winner? The damn software will not offline defrag on the majority of computers I have tested it on.. No other defragger has issues with offline defragging as this crap does.

Anonymous said...

In answer to an earlier question ... yes the latest JkDefrag v3.34 will defrag any Truecrypt volume as long as it's mounted, I use it every day with no problems.

Captain Kirk said...

HDiskDefrag is recommended by me.
Its Freeware - not the fastest but it works nearly perfect.

Ultra said...

Hi, I was just wondering what kind of a defrag engine does system mechanic use?!? http://www.iolo.com/

Larry Brown said...

Someone here mentioned a nice tool that does not defrag the MFT. Tools that don't defrag the MFT should immediately be dropped from consideration. Defragging half the disk is only slightly better than not defragging at all. It's like giving your car a tune-up "except" for changing the spark plugs. Utils exist that will defrag the entire drive, including the MFT, so go with one of those.

ZzBloopzZ said...

Dear Donn,

Do you recommend using Perfectdisk 2008 for Vista? Maximum PC concludes that the built in Vista defrager is good, and that there is no performance increase with a 3rd party defragment tool. Article can be found via http://www.maximumpc.com/article/the_disk_defrag_difference

I use PerfectDisk 2008 on my Windows XP machines and it works GREAT! It feels that the Vista built-in defrag is slow though.

Donn Edwards said...

Thanks for the article reference.

I use Puran Defrag 5.1 on my wife's Vista machine, and leave the Vista defragger turned off.

It is set to do a boot time defrag every Friday, and PD5's automatic defrag is turned on.

MerleOne said...

I have also switched to Puran Defrag 5.1 on my Vista System. I like the fact that you can defragment the files and sort the directories without consolidating free space so it is real fast and compatible with incremental drive imaging.

iyer said...

gr8 list...

i don't know why u gave thumbs up to paragont total defrag!!!!!

´gnor said...

Dear iyer!

I didn't give a thumbs up for Paragon, but for jkdefrag!

That does quite a good job.

But only on a workstation, servers, which tend to run 24/7/365, so no wee hours to defrag, should rely on a controlled fragmentation file system like the old Berkeley Fast File System for BSD *NIX.

OS/2's HPFS inherited from it, and early versions of NTFS.

ext2 and ext3 have a similar strategy.

I hope I have clarified my point.

Kind regards

Gnor

Anonymous said...

Stay away from Disktrix UltimateDefrag, it has not provided any support.
Did not reply to any support questions. All I get, is they will reply in 48 hours. Then nothing.

Ask for a refund a 3 weeks ago (website says 100% "No Questions Asked" Money Back Satisfaction Guarantee. If you are unsatisfied with your purchase simply contact us within 30 days for a full 100% refund - no questions asked.) with no response from them. I get the auto response from them and thats it.

Donn Edwards said...

@Anonymous: I'm surprised to hear this again. Send another email.. I had a similar problem once before, but they did answer and sort out the issue.

MerleOne said...

I have been using SmartDefrag from IOBit, latest build, and find it a really nice tool (and freeware). It now supports auto-defrag when system is idle, and one can exclude files based on size criteria, which is even better than manual selection of excluded files. Re-defrag are usually very quick, which is a grzat plus.

MerleOne said...

Another product to be released :
http://www.disktrix.com/defragexpress_screenshots.htm

A simplified version of Ultimate Defrag 2008 with a more classical display.

MerleOne said...

Yet some other free defragmenters have been released :
> Quicksys Defragmenter (beta, free)
http://www.qdiskdefrag.com/

and

> MyDefrag, by JkDefrag author.
http://www.mydefrag.com

Esfirius said...

Hello!
This is my first year I looked at the defrags closely. That is what I've found out:

1. Puran Defrag
I didn't actually like it. Obviously it is cheap and fast but it lacks flexibility (like PerfectDisk with 3 types of defrags or O&O with 5 types), and it did noy seem to defrag my drive very well (PerfectDisk and O&O analysis proved it).

2.PerfectDisk
The interface is very nice, and...I think it is the only advantage. It consumes A LOT of resources while defragging (I think twice as much as O&O in one of its three most-consuming defragmentation ways), it takes a lot of time to defrag the whole disk and the finish time predictions are crappy and very inexact, and it also crashed my computer to a blue screen while defragging, and it didn't manage to reach full defragmentation. + it also lacks settings (compared to O&O)

3. O&O
(By the way, the current version of O&O is 11, so I hope you will update your review)
excellent. It does not consume much resources, it is very flexible, the STEALTH mode brings fragmentation to zero in no time, the "remaining time" timer is extremely accurate (my defragmentation time differed from the predicted by something like 2 minutes)and it really does remove all the spaces on the disk... I mean I may be biased, but in my opinion this is the best defrag you could have for your computer.

MerleOne said...

Regarding O&O Defrag 11 and previous versions, there is something I would like to know : how does O&O Defrag handles directory placement. Puran IMHO choses the best place , at the beginning of the partition.

Also, I find that with Puran, you have a greater choice of settings, for instance you can select simple defrag + directory sorting and that's all.

Anonymous said...

I greatly appreciate your work. It gave me many insights and also a bunch of tools to check out.
So far none of them satisfies my needs though.
I have a large 1 TB disk with media data and these change quite a bit when I update audio and picture meta-tags, create slideshows or movies, etc.
I think that these days there are many folks around with large media collections but the defragger makers do not seem to address the issue properly.
As the files are large they tend to fragment easily.
All of the tools I have tried take very long to defrag and it can easily take 24 hours to get a defrag run completed.
Rather than having my PC run 24 hours just to defrag I would greatly appreciate if defragmentation would be a constant background task.
Also the so called "intelligent" placement algorithm does not make much sense here as there is no preference in startup files and recent files are more likely NOT to be touched again. I suppose that free space consolidation is much more important in my case.
I write this to shine a light on defraggers from a different perspective and I hope to see more flexible defrag configurations in the future.

Esfirius said...

2Anonymous
my favourite O&O defrag allows you also defragmentation by name, which may help you in your case

Anonymous said...

I have another 1 TB disk which I use for backups. It is normally switched off. I switch it on about once a week to backup my data using rsync. I think that any "smart" defrag placements will also not make much sense with a backup disk.
I found that the disk was about 12% fragmented and it took about 1 week ! to get it consolidated. I tried PerfectDisk10, JKdefrag and SmartDefrag but all behaved similarly slow.
I will take look at OOdefrag 11 which claims to have a mechanism to defrag lately modified file in the background.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why the limit for minimum free space is given in % ?
I do not understand why it should not be easily possible to defrag a 1TB disk with only 1% free space.
I think that 10GB of free space should be plenty enough to rearrange fragmented files.

Donn Edwards said...

The Windows Defrag program has a "force" option to allow for defrag in tight situations.

Many other programs (PerfectDisk, JkDefrag, PuranDefrag) are not bothered by the % free, but if you only have 10GB free and you need to defrag a 100GB file you can't expect stellar results. 10% free is purely a rule of thumb. There is no theoretical barrier, but different algorithms require different conditions.

The last time I tried this kind of defrag with Diskeeper it failed miserably.

Bear in mind that if you are trying to defrag 1TB on a USB drive, it is going to take days, because of the slow interface speed of USB.

Esfirius said...

About defragmenting 1 TB disks:
I am not sure about it, but what I think is that several defragmentators actually make a copy of the file they have to defragment, then defragment it and replace the original file (so that if your computer/defrag suddenly stops working, you wouldn't lose any infromation).

So let's say that A is a movie, and the file placement goes like this: AABBACADDDADDA, where B, C, D are some random files. The defrag takes out AA__A_A___A__A (the bits of the movie), moves it to the free space on your disk, and starts defragging it. when it is ready - i.e. looks like AAAAAA, it has to put it back...but there are B, C and D files who occupy this place! So in our case in order to free up 6 cells for six "A" letters, it has to remove the "BB" and "C" blocks.

So it copies fully to the free space the B and the C files , defrags them, puts "AAAAAA" back and starts looking for free space for the B and C files that are in the free space on the disk now.

So basically it may have to copy to the free space on your disk several files - like B and C in our case -, and that may require some space.

Obviously you can make a defrag that will just "cut" files from the disk (instead of copying), defrag it and put it back, put in this case if something bad happens to your computer, you may lose the file.

Donn Edwards said...

The Windows API has a function that allows parts of files to be moved from one location to another. When a defrag program uses this API it has to decide what portion of the file to move, and where to move it.

Only once the data has been copied will the Master File Table be updated to the new location, so if there is a problem the original location remains in use.

It is up to the defrag program to decide how to defrag a group of files, and where to put the pieces that are "in the way" if there are any. THEORETICALLY you could defrag an entire disk that has only one free cluster, but defragmenting a file one cluster at a time is painfully slow.

The time it takes to defragment a disk is mostly the time it takes to move the data, plus a bit of overhead for analysing the drive and deciding how to defrag the files. Bear in mind that big drives have a LOT of clusters to be moved, and in the case of a USB drive, the speed at which the data can be moved is extremely slow: usually slower than network copying.

It is best to defragment external USB archive drives as little as possible, if at all. A fragmented archive is not that much slower than a defragmented one, especially if you only plan on copying it back in an emergency.

Anonymous said...

Is there a defragger that also moves the $meta files to the front of the hard drive? Sometimes I can't resize a hard drive because of the scattered $meta files at the rear of the drive. Maybe a linux program that can defrag a Windows partition. Any ideas?

Donn Edwards said...

JkDefrag can move files from the end of the drive, including some $ files. Also, try PerfectDisk for defragmenting system files.

shah said...

Your list of reviews a lots. Which one work better? I bored with in house vista defrag. It's so slow sometime make me cancel the program a while it launch. Thanks for your info.

=============
My defrag tools
http://www.squidoo.com/advanceddefrag

Anonymous said...

I didn't see Advanquest's "System Suite 9" listed. It, too, as a nice defragger with process graphics that is schedulable. It also has a system wide 'cleaner' that you can run right before the defrag so you are not wasting time moving junk around. I would like to see how this compares to the others.
Thanks for the great blog!

John said...

Hi, Mr Edwards. I stumbled upon the program of Advanced Defrag when I was surfing the net to find a suitable defrag program for my computer. I had downloaded the full function trial of Advanced Defrag, so far it seems work great on my Vista computer, I really love the real-time defragment feature, and now I'm thinking to buy a copy of it. I'm wondering if you can write a review of it so that I can make my decision.

John

Dutchboy said...

I started a defrag of my system partition-100 gig,with only windows and program files on it.

Two months ago I did a clean install,so there is only tow months of fragmentation on it...

I started 39 hours ago, and still having to wait another 5:49 hours, which can easily add up to 7 or 8 hours - totalling to 47 hours - nearly two DAYS to defrag 100 gig!

Wondering which monster program I used???! PARAGON Total Defrag! Nice huh!!!

Not a normal thumbs down, but a HUGE THUMBS DOWNNNNNN!!

Hope everything will work after all, since Ive readinthis post too, it can screw up "mov" files... What the F*CK!!!



paragont total defrag

Beth said...

Hello, I've heard that regcure is quite good at improving your systems defrag reate, do you know if this is true?

Beth

Donn Edwards said...

@Beth: I doubt it, but I will test it at some point. Their web site only claims "This feature has the capability to improve the performance of your Windows System, leaving it far speedier."

The performance of a defrag program is determined by:
a) The algorithm used by the program
b) The speed of the hard drive
c) Lack of interference from other programs or background tasks trying to use the hard drive.

It is unlikely that a *third party* product could affect any of these except the last one. It certainly can't do much about (b) except perhaps tweak the system buffers slightly.

vesti srbija said...

Your Reviews are outstanding.Thanks!!!


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