Diskeeper 2.0

Executive Software's Diskeeper 2.0 defragements your disk while you sleep.

Jonathan Chau

March 31, 1997

3 Min Read
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Defragment your disk while you sleep

Windows NT users have discussed(online and off) the effects of fragmentation on NTFS, so I won't rehash themall here. I'll just say that NT slows down noticeably when you defragment thehard disk.

Although a handful of NTFS defragmentation programs are available,Executive Software's Diskeeper offers the richest feature set. Unfortunately,because Diskeeper was the first defragmentation program for NT, it came with itsshare of problems. Users who tried to beat up on the program usually ended upwith the program beating up on them.

Diskeeper 2.0 fixes most of the anomalies in the older releases, notably,the upgrade-itis flaw in Diskeeper 1.X's design. (Larry Kahn's "Diskeeperfor Windows NT," April 1996, reviews Diskeeper 1.01 for NT 3.51.) Rememberwhen Diskeeper required a patch every time Microsoft updated NT? Well, the NT4.0 kernel now contains the defragmentation hooks, so Diskeeper canrun--unmodified--on NT 4.0, NT 4.0 with Service Pack 1 (SP1), NT 4.0 with SP2,and all future updates of the OS. This improvement is good for ExecutiveSoftware, because the company won't have to play catch-up to Microsoft anymore,and it's good for us users because we won't have to hunt down patches every timeMicrosoft comes out with a new version of NT. (For the down side, seeCTRL+ALT+DEL, page 200.)

Diskeeper installs as a service, which is how it does most of its magic.Because Diskeeper is a service, you can set it to defragment your hard disks,even if you're not logged on. Diskeeper is also the only defragmentation toolfor NT that works without user intervention: The program includes an internalscheduler, shown in Screen 1, that you can use to schedule Diskeeper to runagainst your disks at regular intervals. The scheduler's level of detail is anice touch--you can set the days when the program runs. You can even setDiskeeper to run continuously against stubbornly fragmented disks.

When you first run Diskeeper, you'll probably want to run its analysisprogram to see how fragmented your disks are. Diskeeper uses color-coding todisplay fragmented files, system files, contiguous space, free space, and thepage file's location on the disk. Analysis of my 1GB disk identified 97fragmented files with 350MB of free space. Diskeeper, running at normalpriority, took about seven minutes to whittle that number down to fourfragmented files. This quick performance seems to support Executive Software'scontention that Diskeeper 2.0 is faster than Diskeeper 1.X. I didn't see atenfold performance increase, but I don't think anyone has, outside the vendor'slabs. Another benefit to Diskeeper's design is that it runs online; that is, youdon't have to schedule downtime to defragment your hard disks.

You can overlook most of Diskeeper's problems because they are inherent inthe NTFS code. For example, Diskeeper requires a significant amount of freespace. On an average hard disk, Diskeeper requires roughly 20 percent free spacefor optimal defragmentation, but that figure varies. How many of us have thatmuch free space on our hard disk? The main factor that influences Diskeeper'sperformance is file size: The larger the files on your system, the more freespace Diskeeper requires to work at an optimum level. Diskeeper can't defragmentthe NT swap file because NT locks it for exclusive use. You can eradicate pagefile fragmentation by moving the swap file to another drive and deleting theoriginal copy. NT re-creates the page file on startup, but only if it's notthere to begin with. Thus, the page file becomes fragmented if you don't deleteit between boots--which is nigh impossible to do on NTFS partitions.

All in all, Diskeeper 2.0 represents an excellent value. If you ownDiskeeper 1.X, you can download the upgrade to 2.0 for free from ExecutiveSoftware's Web site. Because Diskeeper also supports FAT disks (i.e., 16-bit FATdisks--Windows 95's FAT32 file system is unsupported and unreadable on NT), youcan use the program to automatically defragment all the disks on your systemevery night. It's safe, it's automatic, and it's a useful addition to any NTsystem.

Diskeeper 2.0

Executive Software800-829-6468 or818-547-2050Web: http://www.execsoft.comPrice: $75 for Workstation; $399 for Server

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