Monday, November 19, 2007

The Ideal Defrag Utility

What does your ideal defrag program look like? Everyone has their own preference, but for me it would include the following key points:
  • Easy to set up for first time users. I don't mean the install process, I mean there must be a wizard the user can run, answer questions about how s/he uses the computer, and the options are set for them.
  • Must do a defrag when asked to. There is nothing worse than a defrag program that says "no" or does nothing when you click on the defrag button.
  • Option of a thorough or quick defrag. The thorough defrag should start at the beginning and go through all files, fixing things as it goes along. The quick defrag could be used to make some basic improvements but not take too long. The two options must not contradict each other wherever possible.
  • Cater for all kinds of files, including system files, metadata, MFT, and so on.
  • It must show the user in detail what it is doing. The user must know what is going on, and be able to determine where any given file is, and see what files are causing logjams or other problems.
  • All options must be available from startup options or the command prompt. I'd like to be able to create a second icon on the desktop with some special options for a particular need.
An advanced user option would also be to be able to move any given file to a particular location on the disk, as a means of being able to sort out logjams manually.
I know of no program that does all of these, but there are a handful that come close. PerfectDisk does many of these things, but not all. I guess there is room for improvement in most packages. I'd welcome comments from readers.

Hear the podcast from the PerfectDisk blog | Part 2 - MP3 version (2.58MB) | Part 1 (2.91MB) article


Muhammad Fahd Waseem said...

Mr. Edwards, I was just going through the 'ideals' you have set for any defragmentation program, and I'm impressed. It comprehensively covers all bases, something no one seems to have done earlier. Hope the defrag manufacturers are reading this!

You mention (time and again) in your blog how good PerfectDisk is. I have, however, experienced problems with it, both on my XP and Vista machines. I might as well mention that my drives are nearly 90% full, and the data content changes so often that the hard-disk runs almost 20 hours a day. With the massive defragmentatin that comes with such use, I needed a good defragmentation utility. PerfectDisk refuses to work well for me, leaving many fragmented files.

On the other hand, JKDefrag and O&O Defrag 10 both work. While JKDefrag is certainly mentioned as a top program by you, I noticed you mentioning O&O as a "close competitor" only. I wonder if I am doing something that lessens my PerfectDisk experience?

Donn Edwards said...

I'm not a PD8 expert, but my first try would be to enable aggressive defragmentation, and then do a regular free space defrag. I am assuming that the files you are working on are large.

When a disk gets to 90% full you are asking a lot from Windows, because the MFT reserved space can occupy at least half of the free space, so the effective free space is even less.

I suggest you use CCleaner to remove as much of the hotfix junk that is safe to do, and then you should consider compressing any "unused" files you can.

Your target would be to ensure that there is enough free space on the drive to accommodate a copy of all the files you use daily.

I refer to O&O Defrag as a "close competitor" only because I had to narrow down the field. It's a good program and I intend to do more tests on O&O Defrag in the near future.

Muhammad Fahd Waseem said...

Reference to your comment: the files are both large and small, ranging from GBs to bytes.

I am afraid that I *have* removed the junk (in fact, I never allow junk to accumulate, otherwise I'd have even less free space).

Plus, I'm a resident of Pakistan, where good and genuine backups and upgrades are hard to come by. Compression has already been enabled via NTFS.

It's just that PD8 refuses. The 90% free space figure that I gave included the MFT, so that's not the problem. After all, if it were, why is JKDefrag and O&O working?

Donn Edwards said...

Without knowing the size of the drive or files in question, it's a tricky question. I suggest you contact Raxco support with a screen shot of your drive, and see what they have to say.

CCleaner has an option to remove "Hotfix Uninstallers", which can free up several MB of disk space.