Optimistic Optimization - Page 2

 By Jim Freund
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Most of the defrag programs we've worked with demand the CPU's full attention, and frequently restart at the slightest hint of another process requiring disk access. Our tests showed Diskeeper to be, for the most part, a happy exception (no pun intended). The program allows you to establish high/low priorities that the optimization process will take for either the automated "Set It and Forget It" mode or the Manual Defragmentation Mode. Obviously, the greater priority the defrag process has on your machine, the more efficient it will be. However, it's nice to know that you can have the process running in background when needs be without too much problem. In our tests, we had no problems defragging two volumes on the same PC concurrently.

When analyzing the status of the hard drive, the program offers sage advice that users can easily understand. One of our tests evoked the following response:

"This volume is somewhat fragmented, with 6% of the total volume space available for defragmentation. This level of free space is so low that performance is suffering from that fact alone. Indeed, fragmentation is the least of your worries under these conditions. Clear some files off this volume to achieve a minimum of 20% free space for acceptable performance. You should schedule Diskeeper to run at least once a day (if you haven't already done so) to keep fragmentation at a low level."

There are some caveats to running Diskeeper. For example, there have been incompatibilities with volumes using Partition Magic or lock by Scan Disk. In addition, on Windows XP systems, manual defragmentation of large files (4 GB or larger) at the default priority may result in the system responding poorly.

Prices begin at under $50 for a single new license (or $30 for the upgrade) and drop incrementally based on volume purchase. Server prices start at about $250 new, or $150 for the upgrade. A trial version is available for download.

Ultimately Diskeeper offers a trade-off. While lacking some of the customization, complexity, and thoroughness of its competitors, this package makes up for it in ease of deployment, use, and convenience for both clients and administrators. It may behoove you to ask the question: Just how far does each local drive attached to your network need to be optimized? If the answer falls short of the anal-retentive, this might just be the solution for your needs. On the downside, Diskeeper's display while optimizing isn't quite as mesmerizing as that of Norton Utilities, or even Microsoft's equivalent, but then, what is?

Jim Freund is the Managing Editor of CrossNodes.

This article was originally published on Nov 2, 2001
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