Today's hard drive capacity reached 1TB already and it can go even further, but I am thinking about only one problem: how much time would you spend on defragmenting 800GB of data? Unfortunately, access time and data transfer rate were left behind in the race, and capacity increased much faster- especially when talking about the drives for home users- leaving the SCSI realm aside. So, if I buy a 400GB drive, I don't say 1TB, what are my choices for having it run fast and safe for as long as possible?
Well, some people reinstall their Windows OS from time to time or create an image after installing and then use that image to recreate a clean partition when performance seems to decrease, but both these solutions will take more time than it is worth. The right way is to defragment your hard drive(s) on
a regular basis, using the best programs available for this task.
Unfortunately, there aren't many free programs that can be used for this purpose, but the commercial programs area has more than one excellent application that can enter today's race, and I have chosen a triad: O&O Defrag, Perfect Disk and Diskeeper.
I used all these three programs so far, and I remained with O&O Defrag, but I can't say that this is the best of the three, since they all have excellent features, go within the same price range and, of course, don't have any reliability problems. Let's start today's joyride! O&O Defrag Professional 8.5.1788
There is not much to say about O&O Defrag, because the best way to see what a program can do is to use it, and for this and the other programs here today, there are full featured trial versions available, but I'll tell you about the things that make each of them better than the standard Windows defrag tool.
O&O Defrag has an excellent interface that makes it easy to use and understand for beginners, and the experts can easily find their way to the advanced features available in this program. Did I say "features"? Let's check'em out!
The additional goodies that come with this program are the screensaver and a shell extension that allows you to right click a partition and defragment it with O&O Defrag straight from the context menu. The screensaver is not just displaying an advertising banner or something like that, but starts the program and defragments your disk while you're away. Sweet!
If you want to enable automatic defragmentation, the program will do everything by itself, saving your precious time, but there are some things that you have to know about the manual modes. There are five defragmentation modes: Stealth, Space, Name, Modified and Access Defrag. If their names don't say it all, then it may be the time for you to check the comprehensive documentation!
Other features include scheduling, a cluster inspector, advanced reports and more, all for a price of 44.95$. The trial period lasts a month, enough to decide and save the money for a buy...PerfectDisk 7.0 Build 46
If there can be an attribute that can be granted to your disk by the golden fish, what would you choose? Fast, large, silent or reliable? My word would be "perfect", and this is the name of the next program, PerfectDisk.
PerfectDisk has an interface just like its two competitors - easy to use and excellently designed. I noticed that all three programs here have their interfaces organized the same way, and this is not because they copy each other, but because the good sense and interface design rules say so. The rules that I am talking about are top-down and left-right priority organization, and as a consequence, most important features can be found starting from the upper left corner of the main interface. The rest of it is as easy as it gets.
The feature list includes what I was expecting, such as scheduling and reports, but there's also a very interesting one that hit me. Apart from its ability to process local FAT, FAT32 and NTFS partitions, PerfectDisk can also work with remote shared drives of the computers from your network.
There are two defragmentation methods available in this program, Smart Placement and Defragment Only. The first one should the wise choice because it also ensures that your files are properly organized so in the future file fragmentations will be less likely to occur.
You shouldn't worry about the fact that PerfectDisk has only two work methods available, because it incorporates some unique technologies that make it the only application that can defrag ALL system and data files, and this is just the beginning... There's a lot more to discover about this program, and you'll have a month available to check it out. After the trial period ends, you can buy PerfectDisk for only 44$, if you think it's a worthy choice. Diskeeper Professional Edition 10.0.593t
The last component of today's triad has reached recently its 10th version and I have here the trial of the Professional flavor. It has about the same price as the other two programs here, is as easy to use as them, and its features are what we're going to check right away...
...but first, what should you expect from the interface? I must say that I was surprised, since O&O Defrag and PerfectDisk have excellent interfaces, but this one here has something extra. To be short, Diskeeper is an eye candy with good looking, shiny icons and rounded buttons, but in fact there's something more to it, I don't know what, you have to see it for yourselves and decide.
Before moving on to the manual defragmentation features, I must point out the scheduling and advanced reporting tools, well done and very useful. For example, you can schedule different primary and secondary defragmentation tasks to the same partition. As an example, let's say that you need to defragment your drives in the morning when it's Sunday and Saturday, and at noon and midnight for the rest of the week, using different methods and settings. Sounds great for me!
There are three defragmentation strategies available here - Quick, Recommended and Comprehensive, with the last one being the most powerful method to reorder your files. Using the Comprehensive mode, you will also perform free space consolidation, but this is the method that takes up most of your CPU and time.
The special technologies present here include smart background defragmentation, smart scheduling, Power Management and more. This "smart" part may sound like a deja-vu, but this program is really smart! All this can be yours for 49.95$, and you can test it for free just like the other two, for an entire month!Conclusion
Since I don't have at least three computers at my disposal and one or two weeks for extensive and accurate testing and my past experience with these programs didn't show any drawbacks, I can't have a loser today, but I can't have a winner either. For me, these are three gold winning defragmenting programs, and I advise you to spare the time for checking each one of them and decide which one works for you, or just pick one, since you can't miss!