Your Canadian Information Technology SuperSource

Your Canadian Information Technology SuperSource


Defragging

One of the biggest client complaints I get is that their computer is running way to slow. One of the most overlooked solutions is defragmentation.

So what exactly is fragmentation anyways ? Imagine this simplistic view for a moment.

Suppose you have two files each broken down into three parts and stored on the hard drive below

File-1 File-1 File-1 File-2 File-2 File-2 Empty Empty Empty Empty

 

Now Suppose you delete File-1 and free up the first 3 parts

Empty Empty Empty File-2 File-2 File-2 Empty Empty Empty Empty


Now you have File-3 which takes up 5 parts.

File-3 File-3 File-3 File-2 File-2 File-2 File-3 File-3 Empty Empty

 

Now you can see where the fragmentation comes into play . The computer has to start reading File-3 at the beginning , which is fine , but then has to skip past File-2 and then continue on reading File-3. Now imagine this on a scale of tens of thousands of files (My system has 236,120 files with 48,373 folders) and you can see what sort of impact this can have ! To make matters even worse , when the Windows 7 paging file becomes too fragmented , all system restore points can be deleted , making for a possible disaster .

Now here is the final result of defragmentation

File-2 File-2 File-2 File-3 File-3 File-3 File-3 File-3 Empty Empty

 

Point to remember , defragmentation performance loss  is only an issue with mechanical hard drives , you should NEVER defragment a Solid State Drive ( SSD ) as this will decrease the life span of your drive ! (not to mention that it is pointless as well)

Help is out there

Well , sort of . There are actually quite a few programs out there , some free and some not. Right now I am going to outline a few of the best in their fields , Defraggler , Ashampoo Magical Defrag 3 and Diskeeper .

First off I really do not recommend Microsoft’s defragmenter as it has some limitations with it . Although Microsoft’s defragmenter does have a scheduler in it since Vista it cannot defrag the pagefile , hibernate file or NTFS metadata ( if you dont know what these are dont worry about it , the names are not too important  , just that it does not do the full job) . The Windows 7 defragmenter’s interface also leaves a lot to be be desired with the lack of a key map makes  it is sometimes hard to understand what it is doing at times . This defragmenter is SSD aware however.

For the free sector , Defraggler is one of the best defragmenters out there . Again this defragmenter does not do any of the systems files (pagefile , hibernate or NTFS Metadata) but it does come with a good clean interactive  interface and key map. Defraggler also has the ability to schedule  defragmentation with the options of defragmenting individual files/folders , quick defrag and defragmenting free space (to help prevent defragmentation).Defraggler is also SSD aware

Just a  quick note about this other defragmenter , UltraDefrag , it is not nearly as polished as Defraggler but it is one of the few that will defragment the system files .It does have a better user interface then Windows 7 , but it is not interactive as Defraggler is and as such does not have the ability to defragment individual  files/folders.UltraDefrag does not have a scheduler included in it either. One drawback is that UltraDefrag is not SSD aware , so use with caution if you have a SSD

In the commercial sector , there are two great choices Diskeeper and Ashampoo Magical Defrag 3 , both are  similar as they both work in the background and prevent defragmentation from even occurring,  just set it and forget it. Also another key benefit is the near zero resource overhead for these products.  Diskeeper is more geared for the business/enterprise market but do have products for the home user. Ashampoo is exclusively geared towards the home market for the beginner-intermediate .

Diskeeper starts at $39.95 for the home version , but realistically you should look at the Professional version which is $59.95 or the Pro Premier version for $99.95 as the home version is made for ‘basic light computing’ and is missing key features that are included for free in Defraggler. The Pro Premier version is also designed for drives over one terabyte. All versions of Diskeeper are SSD aware and will defragment the  system files

If you are looking for the business/enterprise server market Diskeeper really has you covered starting at $349.99 with far too many features to be covered here , suffice to say they have every conceivable option covered for the savvy (and lucky) administrator .

Ashampoo Magical Defrag 3 costs $14.99 and is SSD aware but does not defragment the system files .

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