Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Great Defrag Shootout: The Winners

Ultimately, it is the reader who is the winner, and I hope that all my reviews (15 commercial, 16 freeware products reviewed) will help others. There are the two winners, in no particular order:

Best Commercial Defrag Program:
Raxco PerfectDisk 8

The category is hotly contested, with stiff competition from O&O Software and Golden Bow but the Raxco product won for the following reasons:
  • PerfectDisk is easy to install and use, both for the novice and the power user;
  • The features are well integrated, and relevant;
  • The default method of organising files is well thought out and extremely effective;
  • The boot time defrag solves problems that many other defrag programs ignore; and
  • The overall performance improvement is well worth the cost of the software.
Any commercial environment not using this product is wasting money. I use it whenever my hard drive gets really messy.

Speaking of money, the folks at Raxco sent me a discount coupon to publish on this blog. If you buy any PerfectDisk product from their download store, use the following coupon code:
It's good for a 20% discount before 31 October 2007 on combo packs, power packs or individual copies of PerfectDisk 8. If you're planning on buying the server product, visit the PerfectDisk Blog first, because there is an incredible promo offer available there. Read the blog entries and you'll save yourself a fortune and make yourself popular with your accounts department.
Update 8 Feb 2008: I have tested and reviewed PerfectDisk 2008, and feel that it is a worthy successor and retains the "winner" status for the best commercial defrag program.

Best Freeware Defrag Program:
JkDefrag 3.25

I'm glad I found this utility. I thought that Contig was the best freeware defrag program, and I still use it heavily, but JkDefrag is a masterpiece, and for a cash-strapped small business I have no problem installing it on all the workstations.
  • It is simplicity itself to use;
  • It is fast and effective;
  • The file placement alogorithm is excellent; and
  • The screen saver option is logical and helpful.
The latest stable version can be found on my Defragmentation Utilities Page, in a simple setup program. Version 3.16 is stable, and version 3.26 works fine on my current system, although there are some remaining bugs in this release. My guess is that these will be ironed out shortly. My original review was version 3.8, and I have used it regularly since then, especially the screen saver component, which is awesome.
Download JkDefrag 3.26 + NTREGOPT + PageDefrag + JkDefrag GUI + Contig, all in a simple setup program.

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


Anonymous said...

Donn, thanks a lot for your work evaluating all these programs, i went with O&O and JKDefrag and everything went smooth as silk :D

Jorge Garza

Gargantula said...

Thanks to your reviews, I tried PerfectDisk v8 (build 65) and it was the first defragmentation tool where I actually noticed an increase in speed! I bought it soon after. Thanks for this finding this "hidden" tool. I wonder what v9 has in store since it was announced on May 08, 2007 in the PerfectDisk blog. I was using Diskeeper 2008 before and I did not notice much increase increase in speed.

Tsu Doh Nimh said...

Great work. I completely agreed with your eval of JKDefrag. This is absolutely my choice and recommendation. Since I recommend this for many of my clients, friends, and family I created an easy installer package for JKDefrag 3.26 that can be found on my tools page.

My post about your work is here

Great work.


The Last Time said...

JkDefrag 3.25 was the slowest defrag program I ever tried. Auslogics has a fee personal defrag program that I found is the best. It is seamless and very fast especially on todays large drives

Gargantula said...

I have no idea about how JKDefrag and Auslogics' program works, but I have experience from using Diskeeper. I loved the speed of Diskeeper, but slow and better defragmentation is better than a fast and sloppy job. Defragmentation is like a work of art, rushing it makes the end result worse.

Utnnyan said...


Could you add Defraggler to your DFrag review? Would be very interested to see how this rates.

Thank you!

Lightweight Buffmeister said...

So, I wonder what other peoples thoughts are on this little experiment I ran.
Take my WinXP desktop which has run for about a week since its last cleanup with the stock Windows Disk Cleanup and Defrag programs. Clean disk of junk with both CCleaner and Glary utilities, then run Auslogics (or Windows) defrag program.
Then: Start up JKDefrag, and it seems amazing to me how much defragmentation there still is on the drive.
Though, after running JKDefrag, then running the machine for another week, JKDefrags GUI reports the drive to be in about the same state again!!(not surprising I guess....though what is so amazing is to see how seemingly ineffective the other programs are (other than JKDefrag, that is).

PaulJ1x said...

Donn, many thanks for your great reviews!

It would seem to me that the best optimization strategy would be to have the most commonly accessed files at the fastest part of the disk. While JKDefrag provides a number of ways to sort the files, it doesn't provide this, it does provide sorting by last accessed which isn't quite the same and can be goofed up by scanning the disk for viruses. In your experience would this optimal sorting make much difference?


Donn Edwards said...

Not really. Judging by the results from UltimateDefrag the order of files doesn't make a huge difference.

Personally I think that JkDefrag's default sequence is the best, because it puts "standard" files first, where they are most likely to be needed, and it leaves space for some temp files near the start of the drive, where performance is good.

PerfectDisk's SmartPlacement strategy follows a similar logic, although it does it in a different way.

Also, this kind of file placement reduces the amount of file movement required for a complete defrag, reducing wear on the drive but also saving a lot of time. When you do a full sort you end up moving lots of files around every time.

{p} said...

I also wonder what you'd think about Defraggler ( ), seeing it's made by Piriform, the maker of CCleaner that I (and a lot of IT professionals) swear by.

Am downloading it now, and will give it a spin.

The Last Time said...

I had a defrag program once that put all the drivers at the beginning of the disk It had a name "*angel" in the executable. It worked like a charm but I lost it. Whatever algorithm was used it made for faster reboots. I've yet to see a defrag program that re-writes all files to the beginning of the disk. Does anybody know one? Thank you for letting me participate in the forum

Donn Edwards said...

Most defrag programs move files to the start of the disk, and many attempt to put the startup files at the beginning, most notably PerfectDisk. JKD leaves a space open to allow for temp files to be placed there, and has some files at the start and "spacehogs" at the back.

I can't say I have ever heard of a defrag program with "angel" in the filename. Info, anyone?

Anonymous said...

PerfectDisk 7 was great, see if you can locate a copy at a used software store.

PerfectDisk 8 is not as good as PD7 and I don't recommend it.

The NEWEST version of PerfectDisk looks _almost_ exactly like O&O's program (GUI ripoff) EXCEPT it has fewer features.

If you insist on paying for a Defragmenter then Vopt works well (if you run it twice on maximun :( ).

Call to Arms !

We need to get together and fix-up a FREEware (with source) version and release the BEST defragmenter to the community.

Phyllis said...

Donn - thanks ;-) I really appreciate you taking the time to do this, whatever the accuracy or subjectivity of your findings and conclusions may be. Keep up the good work!

Guti said...

Very nice article.
In particular I was interested in comparisons between PerfectDisk, O&O Defrag, and Diskeeper.

dates when said...

In case anyone is wondering how old this blog review is and what the dates of the comments are - internet content ages very quickly - the blog was written in
September 2007
and the comments were written from then to
February 2008
when this was written.

1st February 2008 AEDT

{p} said...

Note that Donn's last update is: 8 Feb 2008

Anonymous said...

PerfectDisk (2008 Build 52 - SP2) blocking WinXP-x86's "Standby" process at my notebook!.

Donn Edwards said...

You need to contact Raxco tech support about this. I'm not sure of the details but if your standby mode is invoked after disk inactivity, and at the same time you are using the automatic "StealthPatrol" option, then the disk activity generated by StealthPatrol is going to show up as drive activity and delay the Standby mode.

I have switched off StealthPatrol completely, for other reasons.

Anonymous said...

Check out SmarDefrag by IOBit. It is free and works very well. There are not many options but it is the best free "set it and forget it" program i have found yet. Still in beta at the momnet though.

PCnDThompson said...

No offense to the creator, who provides his software gratis, but JKdefrag is just a considerable burden to hard drives. Packing everything into solid masses of data may make the drive look nice and neat in the program's visual mapping, but it is not good defragmenting practice. A drive doesn't have to look pretty to be "defragmented" (an efficient arrangement of data being all that matters). As one said above, by the end of the week the drive is a mess (according to JKdefrag's standards) and you have to run it again, which results in the solid masses of data being re-arranged file by file every time you use it. The "gaps" JKdefrag creates within these solid masses of data (ostensibly to put new data into WITHOUT having to rearrange everything) seems logical, but when you run JKdefrag again, it wants to take all of that information out of the gaps and put it into the middle of the masses of data already there, which results in a TOTAL rearrangement of the drive's data -- AGAIN AND AGAIN every time it's run(and the creator suggests you use it every day!). That's why it takes forever for JKdefrag to complete what should be an occassional and simple operation. JKdefrag initially seemed like a good idea to me, but upon a little experience with it, it's obvious that it's not nearly as efficient as some of the other freebies.

Donn Edwards said...

I can't remember seeing JKD inserting files into the middle a zone, and my experience has been that JKD is quit efficient.

One way you could speed up the defrag process would be to use the -a 2 option (defrag only) in the screen saver. This doesn't move much around at all, and keeps the files contiguous. The screen saver option is useful because it is working when you aren't.

Running a full defrag on a daily basis is overkill for most users, and I don't recall seeing any instructions in the JKD documentation to say it should be run daily.

The Last Time said...

I use Perfect Disk Version 7 once every 3 months, Austlogic Disk defrag once every 6 weeks (free version). IObit Smartdefrag Beta 5.1 in my system tray. This combination is seamless and I honestly believe provides the optimum solution to maintaining a hard drive. I am a pioneer in this field going back to the days when Norton was the best defrag tool available. In combination with eliminating all but the final restore point every 6 months. CCleaner is also a must in eliminating garbage files and Spybot Search and Destroy Completes my arsenal in retaining a smooth operation. Defraging is only one part of the puzzle. I have cleaned hundreds of computers this way and my clients are delighted when I explain the roles of these softwares for their computers. If you don't change the oil, filter, breather and spark plugs expect your engine to self destruct. There is no one stop software that will keep your computer running like new.

Anonymous said...

I used DiskKeeper and didn't notice better performance so I forgot defragging completely.

Today my drives got so slow I had to do something and found JkDefrag. Real performance increase finally! No need for commercial products after this..

Defragging is all about making your hds perform better. JkDefrag simply did that to me.

PCnDThompson said...

donn edwards said: "I don't recall seeing any instructions in the JKD documentation to say it should be run daily."

A friendly fyi, quoted from jkdefrag site: "What is the best defragmentation/optimization strategy for me?
My advice for all computers is to run JkDefrag once with the "-a 7" optimization (sort by name), and from then on automatically every day with the default "-a 3" fast-optimize option."

All of the "optimize" options are what really bog this defragmentation process down (as in the default "-a 3"). But I really like your idea of "-a 2", which should eliminate the problem and make the program work more like the other defragmenting programs. (The problem is that jkdefrag's supposed claim to fame IS the optimize option.)

Donn Edwards said...

You make a good point. I guess I read the part you mention but it didn't register. I don't think I've used the a7 option ever, and I use a2 for the screen saver to minimise disk usage, and then run a3 once a month or so.

I have installed the package on workstations that are used for email and word documents, and in that case the a3 option makes sense in the screen saver, because that's the only time the defrag ever gets done, and the file system isn't changing much anyway.

You have to adjust the defrag strategy depending on your needs. JKD at least offers that option, whereas many others don't. HTH!

Jonte said...

Great reading and a lot of it. :-) I'm grateful you have done all the hard work for me.

I have for a while felt my computers HDDs are getting a bit slow, a lot of work starting Windows etc... So I dug out my O&O version 6 (yes, it is old) and organized by name (seemd like a good idea and it seemed to work fine a year or two ago). The process took around 16 hours on a 320Gb HDD with 5% free space... The result was horrible, it never stopped bogosorting. Still it claimed under 1% fragmented files when it was done.

So I googled and found you. I installed JkDefgrag and it was of the opininon most of my drive was fragmented. And I'm inclined to believe it... It's now in "phase 3: Fixup, 20% done". And the computer is usable again, maybe not faster than before O&O, but useable...

So my question is if you have a writeup of different organizing strategies? What to choose when?

Anonymous said...

This comes very late after your arrcle but maybe it is still worth saying.

Perfect disk is junk. I have used it for several months, I thought it was great at first but in time I learned to see its stupid limitations.

What I want from a defragmenter is to also defrag the free space not only the files. And I usually stay away of any option to place files according to their use.

Unfortunatelly, in PerfectDisk 8 you don't have the option to defrag free space and files in a single pass unless you also accept the placement according to last used time.

And this in PerfectDisk is what sucks the most. If you dare to close the defragmenter before it finishes the work, next time you start it has a totally a different placement map starting practically from scratch.

I trid this just to make sure. Each time stopping the program after 7-8 hours of work, at around 50% completion. Each time I have restarted it, it took another
8 hours to reach 50%.

What if you don't have the option to leave it running for 20 hours straight? What if you really really need to turn of the computer?

Anonymous said...

A lot of users don't understand their hard drive. Files are saved all over the place with no organization.Bloated temp files,internet cache, cookies and obsolete software.last but not least less than 30% free space. Tools like CCleaner, Cleanup are free utilities to maintain a healthy hard drive. I use PerfecDisck once a month for free space placement, AusLogics Disk Defrag weekly and IObit Smartdefrag Beta 5.01 another free software. Try thinking of your car. Don't overload it, change the oil and rotate your tires. Think smart and use the KISS method. I make a living from people who fail to do normal maintenance on their computer. By the way when was the last time you blew the dust out of your computer. Open the case and take a look.

Skip said...

I've found that actual best defragmenters are much slower then Norton SpeeDisk an the beginning of 2000's. The trial of PerfectDisk defragmented the 40 GB partition with 20% free space in almost 6 hours. In 2002 it took my NU 2001 only 2 and a half hours to defragment 10 GB partition with 15% free space, though the drive was almost 6 times slower. It's a pity, that today the only way to use the NU is to install the heavy resource-eater, Norton SystemWorks.

Donn Edwards said...

@Skip: I tested Norton Speed Disk and it is much slower than PerfectDisk, even on the same drive. I don't have benchmarks for SD vs PD, but I would *never* pay money for SD, even if I just installed SD on its own, which you can do (sort of). I'm sorry to report that almost all the free defrag programs are faster than SD.

By your own calculations 2.5 hours for 10Gb means that SD would take 10 hours for 40GB. Hard drive speeds today aren't 6 times faster than in 2001, so I doubt you could expect SD to do it in 1 hour and 40 minutes if PD is taking 6 hours.

From what I can recall SD was painfully slow every time it ran. See my review which describes SD as an embarrassment to Symantec.

keith14 said...

JKDefrag is now known as MyDefrag and still works great.

Warning: The NSA and 4 million other sick weirdos with "security clearance" have intercepted this page and know that you are reading it.