Disk Drive Defragmentation
In the normal course of events, Windows writes data to the first available space it finds. As a result files will be broken up into parts that will fit into whatever spaces there are. This fragmentation of files can, over time, seriously affect the performance of your system as it will need to access the fragmented files from different locations before loading them into memory for your use. System stability can be compromised and your patience stretched as your system suffers from this case of fragmentation. The solution to this problem is to defragment your hard disk on a regular basis.
When developing Windows, Microsoft included code that would "defrag" disks. This code would do the job up to a point but was not really designed for speed or the increasing size of modern hard disks. Fortunately the original developers of this code, Diskeeper, have not let the grass grown under its feet and have improved this code and released the results under the Diskeeper name. The latest release of this product is version 2007 which is available in editions ranging from Home up to Administrator. This review is based on Diskeeper 2007 Professional which is one level up from the basic Home version.
Diskeeper joins the ever-increasing family of products that require activation for continued use. In the case of Diskeeper, the activation requires the entry of a 29-character code and an Internet connection before a 30-day period has elapsed. Installation is straightforward apart from a message regarding the need to modify Windows Firewall. However, unless you are running a network with Windows XP SP/2 and are installing the Administrator Edition of Diskeeper, you can ignore this message. In fact Diskeeper (the company rather than the product) feels the installation process is so hassle-free that it only provides a few lines of printed instructions, all other information comes in PDF format.
The first time you run Diskeeper, you will be given an opportunity to check online for any updates to the product. Diskeeper 2007's interface has undergone a make-over. While the menu bar remains the same, the Diskeeper toolbar has its content rearrange. The rest of the screen is divided into three panes. On the left is the Quick Launch pane that provides access to sections dealing with getting started; volume properties; configuring Diskeeper; and starting a manual analysis or "defrag" of the currently selected drive.
The top pane on the right lists any detected drives identified by volume letter and showing file system, capacity and percentage of free space. The third pane has tabs for switching between a dashboard, log and history views. Diskeeper can be set to run according to a user-defined schedule; manually; or at boot time when more work can be carried out on the paging file and Master File Table (MFT). While this latter method can open up larger areas of contiguous free space for new files, it can be time consuming.
When performing a normal defragmentation operation, as against the boot time variety, Diskeeper opens an additional window to reveal the movement of files. Diskeeper provides feedback regarding any defragmentation process; most recently defragmented files; volume health and recommendations. This particular version of Diskeeper can handle up to four volumes of 768GB simultaneously and provide on-the-fly defragmentation using its new InvisiTasking background operation. It can prevent the fragmentation of critical system files with its Frag Shield feature and has support for native 64-bit operating systems.
I was impressed with the performance of Diskeeper 2007 Professional and it will continue to be my disk defragmentation tool of choice. The product requires Windows 2000/XP. Pricing for this Professional version has been set at £46.40.
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