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Do you defrag regularly?

Web-based Defragmentation from Raxco

Raxco Software announced the release of PerfectDisk Live, a web-based file system defragmentation service, today, but I got to try out the service late last week. PerfectDisk Live has a friendly user interface suitable for the average user and possibly even Mom and Dad, but I got some errors during the install and the product isn’t much cheaper than Raxco’s standalone version. (PerfectDisk Live is $29.95 for a 12-month subscription while a single license of PerfectDisk Workstation is $39.95.) You might consider the 6-month subscription at $19.95 as a way to see if commercial defragmentation offers any performance benefits in your environment though.

Ignore the Install Errors
Even though using the software requires an Internet connection and a web browser, PerfectDisk Live installs software on your computer using ActiveX. You can remove it using Add/Remove Programs. Starting the install was as simple as visiting the web site and authorizing the ActiveX control to run, but the install process produced some error dialogs on my system. It also produced a Windows Installer dialog, but when the progress bar reached full, the window closed and reopened repeatedly. I hit cancel after about half an hour. It must have worked despite the errors, because when I closed and reopened Internet Explorer and visited the PerfectDisk Live web site again, the software ran perfectly. I’d be prepared for some hand-holding before recommending PerfectDisk Live to less self-sufficient users though.

Operations and Features: Better than Disk Defragmenter
Once it’s installed, PerfectDisk has some useful features not found in the Microsoft Disk Defragmenter that comes with Windows. PerfectDisk Live can perform boot-time defragmentation that defragments files which normally can’t be moved, such as the pagefile. PerfectDisk Live also uses a Raxco technology called SMARTPlacement which moves frequently modified files to help minimized future fragmentation. PerfectDisk Live also lets you schedule defragmentations, but the FAQ states that you have to be logged on to the computer and connected to the Internet for scheduled defragmentation to run.

Inconsistent Statistics
I had both PerfectDisk Live and Microsoft Disk Defragmenter perform an analysis before and after defragmenting with PerfectDisk Live. They couldn’t seem to agree on the state of my drive though.

Before PerfectDisk Live Defragmentation
Microsoft Disk Defragmenter Total Fragmentation: 16%
Microsoft Disk Defragmenter File Fragmentation: 35%
PerfectDisk Live File Fragmentation: 5%
PerfectDisk Live does not report a total fragmentation percentage.

After PerfectDisk Live Defragmentation
Microsoft Disk Defragmenter Total Fragmentation: 6%
Microsoft Disk Defragmenter File Fragmentation: 13%
PerfectDisk Live File Fragmentation: 0%

Neither program recommended a defrag pass after running PerfectDisk Live, so I assume it worked well, but clearly the two programs measure different things when calculating fragmentation percentages Neither the PerfectDisk Live User Guide nor Disk Defragmenter Help offers much insight into what the statistics actually measures. If you think you know, please post a comment.

Overall, I liked PerfectDisk Live. I’m always reluctant to buy programs with functionality that’s already built-in to Windows, but the ability to schedule defrag is a great addition. I recommend PerfectDisk Live as an easy and affordable way to try out regular defragmentation to see how much it can help your system.

-- Adam Carheden
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