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A defragger is a utility that ensures files on disk are in one contiguous chunk. A
defragger may also position files on disk so that frequently used files get prime
real estate. The outermost tracks (beginning of the disk) have faster transfer rate
because they are longer, and hence pack more data per revolution. They are also
faster because they are near the prime OS (Operating System)
system areas where the heads tend to hover over. Ideally it would order files by last
access date, perhaps weighted by frequency of use statistics. That way all your hot
files are close together, and files that end to be used together live side by side.
It may also defrag and tidy directories and other system tables. It may consolidate
free space fragments.
Windows has an official NTFS (New Technology File System) defrag
interface. It is extremely conservative and slow. The idea is that defraggers can
safely run while other programs are running simultaneously messing up the disk.
Another advantage of the interface is that bugs in the defragger are very unlikely to
corrupt the disk. Further, system crashes while a defragger is running are also very
unlikely to corrupt the disk. It would be much faster if Microsoft would implement it
properly. It should buffer up several requests to move small files, and move a batch
of them (or file fragments) in one single elevator seek. The interface could stay the
same. It would just have some extra intelligence inside to do the moves slightly out
of order, in batches.
Defraggers don’t move exclusively locked files. In theory they could. The
programs locking them would never notice, any more than they notice unlocked files
being moved on them, but probably for performance reasons, locked files are left
alone. This means, for optimal defragging, you don’t want other programs
running and using the disk. Defraggers often do their delicate work at boot time to
avoid other programs, even the OS
You can help your defraggers along by putting your
system proper on a partition to itself C:, your scratch space on D:, volatile data
on E:, your programs on F: and your attic of rarely accessed collected programs and
files and backups on G:. The idea is you keep the volatile files together and the
stable files together, with the most used files closest to C:. Stable files, if not
mixed with volatile ones, tend to stay defragged with very little work.
At the lowest level, all defraggers are identical.
itself moves the files, using a conservative algorithm that is designed to recover
from power failure at any time. This limits the speed of all defraggers. Another
advantage is even bugs in defraggers can do very little damage.
For NT/W2K/XP. Does nothing else besides
defrag pagefile.sys Can only run at boot time. You
can almost as easily, and more safely, defrag pagefile.sys by temporarily moving it to another partition in
the Control Panel, reboot, defrag, then move it back, then reboot again.
However you need a spare FAT (File Allocation Table)
partition to do that.
Built-In Windows defragger
This is the defragger that comes bundled with Windows.
It is a stripped down version of Norton Defrag that does not attempt to
place most commonly used files in prime real estate — half the purposes
of a defragger.
for pro version. Also free version
Works on W2K/XP/W2003/Vista/W2008/W7-32/W7-64/W8-32/W8-64. Quick. Comes in 32 and
64-bit versions. Has boot time defrag to defrag
some of the system files which they call offline
defrag. It has a special defrag algorithms for SSDs (Solid State Disks)
to avoid wearing them out with too many writes. It has a special mode to use
if you are creating system checkpoints. Allows simple defrag, free space
consolidation, by prefetch layout and by disk zone (last modified timestamp).
Has a wizard that configures various types of background defrags at various
times just by answering a few non-technical questions. You can configure it
not to run with a given list of important apps are running. It will
automatically get rid of various types of junk files before defrag. It is
straightforward and quick. Has accurate easy-to-understand progress bars.
Does not have a way of handling all the locked or system files.
They give you a $10 coupon when you download
the trial you must use in 5 days.
It has come a long way since I first tested it in 2005.
If you let it do a boot-time defrag, it can defrag everything, even
system files like the MFT (Master File Table)
ChangeJournal… Not only will it let you defrag these files,
it will let you precisely place them.
I have not done a formal benchmark, but this feels like the fastest
It claims monitors file use between defrags to figure out which files
you use most often. I suspect this is not literally true. I can see so sign
of any service doing such monitoring. I think all they means in they turn
on the OS last-access tracking. They are thus tracking
when files were last used, but not how often. The most used files it moves
to the prime real estate near the edge of the disk. If this were true, it
would be an incredibly brilliant feature. I have not noticed any major
improvement in performance after using it. It has a file usage database
that it updates each time you run the defragger. Perhaps it snapshots the
last-access dates of all the files, noticing changes to get an estimate of
frequency of use.
It is quite clever deciding its moves. It avoids having to move the
same file over and over because its ultimate location is occupied. It
sometimes cleverly copies files starting at the end to accommodate a slide
toward the center of the disk.
The defrag is remarkably quick in all of the modes. It lets you look at
and start defrags on other partitions even when it is busy defragging. It
is completely responsive even when it is defragging.
It offers you a choice of you five basic algorithms, basically trading
off precision for speed. It has many sub options. You can sort by create
date, last access date, last modified date. Its normal mode is to place
files in three zones (outer high performance rim purple, middle blue, and
inner archive green) with the most commonly used files in the prime real
estate at the outer edge of the disk. This is for the fanatic who wants to
squeeze out ever last drop of performance. However, it also has a novice
mode, that hides all these techie choices and selects for you. The manual
explains quite well what all the options do, but not so much when you would
want to use them. The express version gives you no choices.
It stores its configuration as a human-readable
XML (extensible Markup Language)
X:\Program Files (x86)\Distrix\UltimateDefrag4\UltimateDefrag.xml
file contains everything to do with configuration, including the
definitions of the various numbered scheduled jobs.
The manual is
excellent, explaining not only the Disktrix program, but how hard disks and
defraggers work. It explains what defraggers attempt to do and why.
The GUI (Graphic User Interface) is responsive.
You can query where various files are or what files are in various
clusters, even while it is defragging. It does a number of thing that make
it easy to understand just what it is doing.
The GUI is compact, easy to understand and easy to
If you want, you can precisely control the placement of individual
It, at least psychologically, appears faster than other defraggers,
though I have not benchmarked it.
It collects the directories and puts them in prime real estate.
When it is moving files it shows reads in cyan and writes in yellow.
This makes its strategy much clearer. Its strategies are more advanced than
the competition, and quite fun to watch. I like the way it goes out of its
way to keep you up to date with what it is doing. It is not one of those
Certain combinations of options will put it into a loop
where it shrinks the blue donut stripping off the outer layer and moving it
to the inner. It claims it has only a minute to go, but chugs on and on
pointlessly. Another time it said there was 0% defragmentation, but it went
into a loop moving the same few files back and forth endlessly. It would
not even pay attention to the stop
button. Until they get this fixed, this is a show-stopper.
When the background scheduled task starts it gives an error
message complaining about a sharing violation.
When the background defragger is running, you cannot launch
Ultimate Defrag. It immediately exits without an error message. It should
join the background instance and let you interact with it and stop it.
When I tried the boot defrag option on a previous version
it made my computer unbootable. I was able to recover in an hour or two
with my purchased copy of Windows-7. It would not have recovered with the
copy of the OS that came with the computer that has no
repair facilities. I suspect the problem was an incompatibility with
Boot-It Bare Metal
boot manager or O & O defragger. When
I tried the new version without O&O installed, it said that by D: drive
had no files (not true) and exited. It turns out I had no drives configured
to defrag at boot time. It should have just bypassed the whole countdown.
When I configured some drives for it to defrag at boot time, all went well.
Sometimes when you set options, then come back, your
options are all scrambled. You have to check all your options prior to each
run to make sure they are the way you want.
Sometimes the to cluster freezes,
and the display gradually fills up with cyan, as if it were moving all the
sectors onto one. I trust this is just a display problem. The disk
integrity is still intact.
If the feature where you click a cluster and see the
files in it stops working, click reset pane
positions. The problem is the panel where the results are supposed
to show up has been closed.
You cannot adjust the boot time settings without
stopping the defrag. It gives no error message, just refuses to
The number of possible tweaking options for the defrag are
overwhelming. The documentation tells you what they do, but not when you
might want to use them. However, you can just ignore them and click
AUTO and still get a very sophisticated
Disktrix refuses to answer emails until you register the product. They
don’t seem to understand that customers don’t register a
product until it is working satisfactorily. It is not as
if potential customers can bum free support, get the product working,
continue to use it and then not pay.
When you defrag multiple partitions, it does them in parallel. It
should not do that unless the partitions are on separate physical drives.
It is much less efficient than doing them sequentially.
The menu is confusing. It says simple mode
when you are in expert mode and vice versa.
When you select files for special placement, it is not just enough to
select them. You must drag them to the left panel or click the << button.
It has no official command line interface, though it does have a
scheduler. I studied how the Disktrix uses the Windows scheduler and
deduced that the following kludge should let you trigger one of the
predefined scheduled jobs from the command line. It launches DiskTrix in
the background. You can’t watch or interact with it.
When DiskTrix moved lesser-used files to the inner tracks, it moved
them to the absolutely remotest innermost slowest tracks. There is no need
to go to this extreme. It just slows down access. This version optionally
lets you place them just after the other files.
It spends most of its time tweaking the positions of rarely used
archive files. It starts it work with the archive files, and only after
they are done does it work on the important files. This means if you abort
the run part way through, it will not have done the most important work.
This is a bit like a housewife who starts first cleans the attic when
guests are coming.
When DiskTrix does a recency defrag, it puts
the most recently used files along the outer rim. However, it puts all the
free space in the center. Newly created files, the ones you use most, are
thus relegated to the sub-prime real estate. It should leave an empty band
near the outer rim.
for JetDrive Professional.
for JetDrive Ultimate.
Runs on XP/W2003/Vista/W2008/W7-32/W7-64/W8-32/W8-64
Pretty Toy Story-like 3D look and feel. They use 3D shaded rendering
throughout, even for generated pie charts to show disk usage. Aimed at the
user. Fully automatic, almost no confusing options. Needs no configuration.
A defragger is not going to do any good unless it is used. This defragger
would be good to give to someone who is defragger-phobic. Visually this
program stands head and shoulders above the competition. This was quite a
surprise for me for a product coming from a company I was unfamiliar
Your choice of about 30 different colour
It claims to defrag all system files including the
It is very quick. When you watch it work, you can see is
not using the usual flat-footed sequential algorithm.
However, they alarm you saying the first defrag could take over
24 hours. They are being overly pessimistic.
It gives you choices of seven ways to defrag including by last-access
date, by last-modified date, clustering files in the same directory which
they call sort by file location, and compacting
(space consolidation). The various options tell you with animations how
relatively how long the defrag will take and what sort of speed improvement
you can expect. This is a very good idea. They also tell you the advantages
and disadvantages and how often to run each type. Not everyone is a geek.
You can also just leave it up to JetDrive to decide.
The animated puppy is gone, though you can configure him back. Cute
wears thin for me very quickly. The Microsoft paperclip gives me apoplexy
when I can’t make it go away.
You can ask it to defrag several partitions and walk away. It will do
them all and do one reboot unattended if necessary to polish the defrags of
all the partitions.
Will also defrag the registry (without pruning junk, just compacting
deleted entries), and defrag memory. I presume
by that they mean internally defragging pagefile.sys. It also deletes junk files before
The deep optimise option will sort
It internally has a white and black list of
SSD (Solid State Disk) drives that
can/cannot be safely defragged.
They respond to bug reports even before you register.
When I installed it, it immediately crashed. However, when
I restarted, it picked itself up, apparently unharmed and did not crash
again. Apparently I am the only person ever to have that trouble. When I
uninstalled and reinstalled it worked fine. It has not happened since.
The scrolling display to select what to defrag does not
show my T: drive. However if I select all, it gets defragged anyway.
The cluster map is pretty lame. It updates infrequently. It is very
coarse. It encodes using only a handful of colours. You can’t tell
very much what is it doing. The author said that fancy displays slow down
the defrag and most of the time there is no one watching.
If you let JetDrive make the decisions, you can start off a defrag with
a click or two. However, if you have your own preferred settings, you must
reenter them every time.
When it reboots to defrag system files, you can’t postpone the
reboot. Several times I lost data because I could not put everything to bed
When you ask it to compact the entire drive, when it completes, the
free space is not all in one chunk. It has 12
zones, and compacts each zone separately.
The legend uses two almost identical shades of green for used and contiguous. I think
used means system
files, but they don’t document that. They should label it
system files and choose a more distinctive
colour. If both colours are present, you can tell the difference, but if
only one is, you can’t tell which it is.
It has no command line interface to let you control it from a
It does tell you much about what is doing. One mysterious activity is
optimising which takes it a minute or two before
it starts analysing or defragging a partition. What is it doing is freeing
up breathing space on the drives, moving data temporarily to other drives
if necessary. This greatly speeds up the defrag.
It does not even clearly label which partition it is currently
It will not let you just view the cluster map of any given partition.
You can only see it during a defrag. It won’t even give a few seconds
to admire it when the defrag is finished. It covers it up with dialog
boxes. Psychologically it gives the impression it is ashamed of the job it
did, and it is trying to hide it, like child with a bad report card.
It is missing an About box that tells you the installed version and
build and Abelssoft does not post the current version on their
The extra-cost Ultimate version includes a few toys that have nothing
to do with defragging.
Professional with HyperFast
In addition there are at least twelve variants, including ones for Windows,
VAX (Virtual Address extension)
Condusiv Diskeeper, formerly Executive Software Diskeeper. Note the spelling
Diskeeper not DiskKeeper.
Particularly good at speeding up file copies.
Defrags, free space, directories, MFT
Moves dirs to centre of the disk.
Has VmWare version called V-locity
Very slow. Makes no attempt to position files by last access date.
Directory, MFT and pagefile.sys
optimisation can only be done at boot time.
Boot time defrag can take 15+ hours and is not interruptible.
The company has Scientology connections, which may cause trouble if you
are in Germany.
My computer was in my bedroom and it drove me nuts clicking away in the
middle of the night after I installed Diskeeper. The only way I could get
it to stop running was to uninstall it.
Diskeeper claims that a badly fragmented MFT
will double boot time and slow some apps by 50%.
Software installs can take 5 times longer.
They claim a badly fragmented page file can slow mouse response to 30
seconds. I find that improbable, unless it were a specially constructed
It claims to improve performance of SSDs
by a factor of 6, but I don’t see how it
could possibly do that. Position of files on an
is supposed to have no effect on speed. Perhaps they use a traditional
RAM (Random Access Memory)
cache. But what would it do the built-in cache would not? perhaps
for Home Premium Edition
for Professional Edition
Specially handles SSDs
Runs on XP/W2003/Vista/W2008/W7-32/W7-64/W8-32/W8-64
It tells you exactly what it is doing, which file is it moving out and
which file it is moving in.
It has 5 defragging options: smart placement
(bands), quick defrag only, compress free space, pre shrink (prior to
shrinking a partition), and SSD
This defragger targets the niche of very large disks where you must be
quick and have to be parsimonious with RAM
to get the disk defragged in reasonable time. It is faster than most other
defraggers. It is particularly good at improving boot time. It optionally
compresses small files. Places most frequently modified (not necessarily
most frequently accessed) files near the center of the disk and rarely
modified ones near the edges, with the free space in the central band. It
will work with only 5% free space.
I checked. Its boot time defrag handles absolutely all the metafiles.
There is not a single fragmented file left when it is
IT Pro Magazine gave it their 2008
editor’s choice award. CNET gave it five stars.
It unusually good working in the background. It automatically backs off
and lets you get work done in the foreground.
If you select several partitions and ask it to defrag, it defrags them
It has something they call OptiWrite that is
supposed to prevent fragmentation. They give no details on what it is. It
might be a hard disk device driver that modifies Window algorithm for
finding free space. It might be something that leaves room at the tail end
of growing files.
Their online store takes credit cards,
cheque, money order or wire transfer. They also sell through dealers.
If you get into the deeper menus, you can leave bands of empty space
for files to grow into.
The pro version monitors the SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology)
features of your hard drive to display its temperature and failure rate.
The user interface is handsome done in nautical colours. Most of it,
however, has nothing whatsoever to do with defragging. I think it would be
best if the non-defragging stuff were pruned off into a separate utility.
It is just confusing. The way they show fragmented clusters is
It has a simple command line interface:
Rem Command line control of Raxco Perfect Diskrem /sp means smart placement, /w means wait"X:\Program Files\Raxco\PerfectDisk\PDCmd.exe"/sp C: D: E: F: G: /w
Unfortunately, it gives you no progress information. Clusters
disappear for minutes at a time. You can’t tell much about what it
is doing or how far it has progressed by looking at the display. You
can’t point at a cluster while it is defragging to find out which
file it is to learn about how it works.
The default colour scheme is well-chosen. I had no problem telling the
various classifications apart.
The pro version has a non-defraggingSSD
optimiser, but they give no details on what it does.
This is by far the slowest defragger I tested.
The trial keeps popping up a nag screen over and over as you work, not
just when you start. I don’t think Raxco understands the purpose of a
trial. The user is supposed to fall in love with the product and decide
they cannot live without it.
It gives you little control over how the defragging is done. It is a
black box. You get to choose their proprietary Smart
Placement option, defrag only or space compression. It uses only
last modified time and file extension in deciding placement in its own
proprietary way. If you are not a techie, this is a plus. You want it
automatic. Deep in the menus you can do some tweaking, but the options
amount to minor variants of the built-in ones. You can’t sort by
last-access date or last modified date, for example.
It does not fully defrag free space, or all the files. You have to run
it two or three times to get everything defragged. Raxco claims this is a
limitation of the NTFS
defrag interface, though I doubt this. It could keep working till it was
done, just as its competitors do. Earlier versions often went into an
infinite loop, but it has not done that with recent versions. Leaves many
files undefragged after a single pass.
The user interface using right click, shift-click etc. is efficient for
a programmer, but not obvious to a novice. You can must things done by
Raxco claims it holds a patent on the idea of file placement. This is
prior art and I can prove it to anyone who needs to break the patent. I
posted the idea years ago on BIX (Byte Information Exchange)
When you use the GUI
to ask it to defrag several partitions, it defrags them simultaneously.
This is not as efficient as defragging them one after the other.
It takes two clicks to see the contents of a block (groups of clusters), and you can only view the
contents when the defrag is stopped. It should take only one and it should
work all the time, with snappy response.
for the single user
credit cards, wire transfer, cheques, money order.
No upgrade discount. This is a problem since they issue new versions at least
every year to fix bugs.
for the Server edition that lets you defrag an entire
LAN (Local Area Network)
Specially handles SSDs using TRIM.
This is what I originally decided to buy for myself. Five magazines
gave it awards.
Comes from Germany. You can let it work in the background waking up
whenever the system is idle to do a little defragging. You can tune the
algorithm to use. You can tune it to sort files alphabetically, to order
for fast read access (sorted by last access date, its most logical
algorithm in my opinion) or fast write access, or to defrag with minimal
resources. It sorts by ascending last access date. Ideally it should sort
by descending last access date to put the most frequently accessed files on
the fast outer tracks near the beginning of the partition. It supports
FAT, FAT32, NTFS
, NTFS5, RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks)
, EFS. Works even on
drives larger than a terabyte. It has a scheduler so you can run the
defrags unattended. It is clever enough to queue up a request to defrag a
partition on the same disk as one being defragged, but will optionally
simultaneously defrag a separate physical disk.
The Complete/ACCESS algorithm has some nice
After the first use, it is relatively quick. It moves a few files
you have not used in a while to the active end of the disk, creating
holes. Then it rapidly slides files down to fill the holes. Often it
does not even need to touch the first half of the disk.
It optimally organises the files so that the
ones you use most often are near the active end of the disk and the
ones you hardly ever use are near the beginning, perfectly sorted. No
other defragger does this. Others use approximate bands or base the
sorting on last modified date rather than last accessed date. This is
the key reason I chose O&O for my own use. For this to work
properly, you must first turn on last-access date maintenance with the
You can think of it like a house with well-designed many-layered
storage for commonly-used items, rarely-used items and an attic.
Getting rarely-used files off to the attic reduces clutter.
It is equally important to get files used together close to each
other on disk as it is to get the fragments of a files. This algorithm
It defrags the hibernate file and the registry. It can even defrag the
registry without a reboot.
The tech people get back to me within hours.
You can control it from the command line, e.g.:
rem defrag with COMPlete ACCess : C: D: E: F: G:
It works faster and more reliably in this mode. It stops
immediately when you ask it to, unlike the GUI
In version 12.0 they introduced zones. You
can specify three zones and which files belong in each zone. Zone
1 is for files that will not likely change. Zone
2 in for your main data files. Zone
3 is for caches and temporary files. It uses
different algorithms to defrag each zone, Zone 1=Complete/Name, Zone 2=Complete/Access and Zone 3=SPACE. This speeds defragging, since three piles are
easier to sort than one giant pile of files. It puts programs in the
prime real estate of the outer band. I suspect they do this because this
is where you get the maximum transfer rate — good for loading
programs. The next band is data, and the innermost band is rarely used
files in the least desirable real estate. You go back and forth between
loading programs and processing data. It keeps all the parts of a given
program together. It keeps the most active data together. Its file
placement is the most intelligent of any defragger However, the overly
wide empty space bands means needless extra head movement. You could
ameliorate that defect by using a tool like BootIt NG to shrink your partitions to
have just the minimum necessary free space.
It gives you lots of statistics about the effect of defragging over the
last few weeks.
I have reported many minor bugs many times. They
don’t fix them, just demand huge amounts of irrelevant documentation.
This is my personal biggest negative.
version 16 is buggy. The command line does not work at all.
You have to use one version back.
It sometimes crashes if you use the feature to display
details about a cluster.
If you uninstall version 16, it does not uninstall the boot
When you install a new version, it will discard most of
your configuration settings including your zone filings. The files that
control this are not human-editable and presumably may change format
between versions. All you can do is take a screenshot of your configuration
and re-key it after you install the new version.
In version 14+, you must
select the drive before you specify your exceptions. If you specify any
exceptions for some other drive, they will be quietly ignored.
Your configured zones directories will be ignored unless
you enable zone processing in a separate menu under: Settings ⇒ Drives ⇒ Advanced.
The most annoying feature is version 12 is
the way it waits for a minute or two before rebooting. During that time it
gives no indication it is busy/waiting.
Another feature that annoys me in version 12, is that it displays file maps for all partitions even
when it is defragging only one. It even shows maps for partitions not used
by Windows. You can’t close any of the unwanted partition displays.
This reduces the detail on what it is doing. You can
temporarily override it by going into Automatic
Settings ⇒ manual.
In version 14, Defrag puts the directory
entries for each zone contiguously at the head of each zone.
It used to be one of the fastest defraggers. It has speeded up a
little, but the competition have surpassed it.
It in incompatible with Copernic indexer. If you run them both at the
same time, O&O will freeze frequently or exhibit strange behaviour. You
must unload Copernic from RAM
just turn off indexing, when
Even this does not stop version 12 from
failing to connect with the background engine often. I have found adding
a delay after unloading and loading the driver seems to work reasonably
well prior to using OODCMD.exe.
Rem OOR restart O&O Defrag background service
net stop "O&O Defrag"rem give 3 seconds to stop.
delay 3 /B
net start "O&O Defrag"rem give 3 seconds to get loaded.
delay 3 /B
Unfortunately, neither the GUI
nor the command line version will run in safe mode because the background
service engine won’t run.
When defragging the C: drive, it sometimes
seems to restart from the beginning over and over. I have every other
application I can think of that might be interfering turned off.
When you enter the registration key, it will ask for three fields, your
name, your company and your registration key. In my case, to make it work I
had to enter my company name in both the name and company field. This is
odd given that I gave them both my name and company name during purchase
and did not specify if it was an individual or corporate purchase.
It seems to be quite slow the first time out. Like most defraggers, it
is using the official Windows NTFS
defragger interface. On subsequent runs, it is reasonably quick but still
slower than some of the competition. I choose to use the Complete/ACCESS algorithm. My machine was noticeably more
spritely afterward, particularly program loads.
The menu talks about a
file to control file layout, but does not
document it. If you enable the layout.ini option,
the files used by Windows mentioned in layout.ini
will be placed near the beginning of the hard disk, in the order specified,
to load them faster. The layout.ini file uses
UTF-16 encoding. It is a Windows feature for
all defraggers, not just O & O. It is just a list of files and
directories in the optimal order for bootup.
It is adequately fast for a 40 gig hard disk
but is too slow for a 250 gig. It is a little too
fussy, often going to a great deal of work for a very marginal improvement.
I use a series of ever finer defrags, so that if I stop early, I still get
The shaded colours used in the cluster display are all subtle
variations on blue, and on top of that appear to be blended for blocks that
have a mixture of types inside them. You can’t tell much. Turn off
shading to give a clearer viewer. Even then the default colour scheme uses
three very similar shades of blue. You can configure a more distinctive
colour scheme by double clicking on the colour swatch in the legend. If
there is no legend, you can turn it back on again under the View tab.
It used to consolidate directory entries together. Now it does not. I
wrote a utility called touchdirs part of the
package, to encourage it, that stamps all directories with the current time
as the last access date. If you use COMPLETE/ACCESS this tends to clump all
directory entries together. You must use this in conjunction with
fsutil to ensure the
OS manages file access timestamps. This
technique does not work well on the C: drive
since Windows won’t give access to its directories to TouchDirs.
It does not completely defrag the disk in a single run. See the
features matrix below for files it never defrags. It takes many passes,
alternating SPACE and ACCESS/COMPLETE and boot STEALTH defrag to get all
the files defragged and the space consolidated. This make little practical
difference to performance, but is annoying for someone like myself who also
uses a defragger for compulsive aesthetic reasons. It may just be that
files in use during the defrag bedevil it, but it seems more than that. If,
for example, during an ACCESS/COMPLETE run, a there is a locked file in the
middle of the slot where a large file would naturally go, it put the file
after the locked file, leaving a large space prior to the locked file. It
orders the files strictly in last-access order. It seems to me it
should fill the hole with small files that would naturally be placed
When using COMPLETE-Access mode, it works on the oldest files first, so
if you abort the defrag, you don’t get any improvement. This is
analogous to someone who starts his daily housecleaning by cleaning the
It is often hard to tell just where it is working on
disk. If often appears to be hung when it is moving many small files. There
is nothing flickering in the cluster display.
Does not defrag metadata (NTFS
alternate file forks), UsnJrnl or $bitmap.
It will not defrag the page file unless there is a contiguous free
space hole big enough to hold it.
It does not defrag the MFT
does not internally tidy or resize the registry, the
MFT, the directory etc.
When I tried to defrag a FAT32 C: partition
in Win2K, it kept rebooting. It could however defrag a FAT32 D: partition in Win2K.
It sometimes turns the machine off, suddenly, with no error message. I
was able to correct the problem by running chkdsk (with automatically
fix errors checked) on all drives. The problem turned out to be
corrupted security descriptors.
When running, the ribbon Start button is disabled, and when stopped the
ribbon stop button is disabled. However, the same button is used for both
pause and resume. There is no paused indicator on the ribbon. The screen
looks the same whether it is running or paused. The pause button should
turn into a resume button when it is paused.
Version 11.0+ has a hibernate mode.
However, it is a toggle and there is on indicator to tell you the current
state. Further, running commands like Launch don’t automatically
bring it out of hibernation. It just fails without telling you why.
It considers even the old system volume information snapshots (shadow
copies) to be exclusively locked. The help files report the bug in
Vista that explains why these files cannot be safely
defragged. In theory, they could be defragged at boot time. From a
performance point of view, this is not a major problem since you rarely use
It stores the configuration in a binary file:
. This does not appear to include the zone
configuration, but I can’t find where it is squirreled away. I looked
in every file and in the registry. It might in encrypted or compressed
form. This is information is more important than you might think. O&O
discards all your settings on every reinstall.
With background defrag, a file mysteriously disappeared. I can’t
be sure background defrag was the culprit, but I have ever since I have
since turned it off.
There are three parts to the defrag that work semi-autonomously.
The defrag engine that actually moves files around. It has no user
The GUI that displays how the defrag is
The command line interface that names the files as they are
The system tray.
Each of these four pieces can crash leaving the others running. Much
of the problem comes from about 30 seconds lag
in the communication or lost messages. You can tell the
GUI to display a cell, but the communication
delay to the engine and back means it might not respond for 60 seconds, if ever. What they need to do to fix it is
provide two communication channels — one for routine traffic and
one high priority channel for user commands.
When you install, you are best to first, shut down O & O Defrag
program, shut down the O & O command line program, shut down the
service O & O Defrag with the administrative tools, close the tray
icon process with the task manager, uninstall the old version, reboot,
close the tray icon process with the task manager again, delete
install the new version and reboot, to make sure you don’t have any
problems with the old background engine running.
If you ever tested version 11.1 and
decided not to upgrade or buy, you may not test version 11.5. Reverting to a previous version after a test can be
problematic too. Tech support will give you special OODRM2.exe software to clear things out.
If you ever tested version 11.1 and
decided not to upgrade or buy, You will need a special temporary evaluation
key to test version 11.5.
It goes into an endless loop if you edit files in the background while
it is working. It needs exclusive use of the machine despite the
I have written them dozens of times about bugs and suggestions for
improvement. The usual response is a request for more information, as if I
had written them something cryptic in Chinese. I get the distinct
impression they are just putting me off. They have never fixed a bug I
reported or implemented an improvement no matter how much information I
provided them. Part of it may be a language problem. I don’t think
many people who work there are very fluent in English.
I refused to buy the latest upgrade because it did not address any of
the problems I had written them repeatedly about. Further, the things they
did change were unimportant.
My comments may sound like utter damnation, but I still consider O&O
best of breed, though I if I get some time I will exhaustively retest all the
competition to see if I can do better.
This defragger is remarkably good, especially when you consider it is free.
Works on W2K/XP/W2003/Vista/W2008/W7-32/W7-64/W8-32/W8-64
It does boot time, background(what they call automatic) and scheduled defrags.
It use an intelligent quick move algorithm that seems to avoid moving
and removing the same clusters, unlike the competition that use mindless
The user interface is intuitive and straight forward. Everything worked
the way I expected it to, with one exception. You must tick off all the
drives to defrag, not just select the one you want to defrag. It ignores
the one you select, and defrags the list with ticks.
The GUI looks just as good as any of the commercial
It has a clever feature of allowing boot time defrags no more than once
a day or once every two days.
You can run a defrag only, fast optimise or full optimise depending on
how much time you are willing to invest.
It is not perfect, but far from fatally flawed:
It is not suitable for SSDs.
MajorGeeks.com handles the
download for them. The site is a minefield of deception trying to trick you
into downloading and installing something that is not IOBit Smart
You have no control over the algorithm used to place files. For a
non-techie, this could be considered an advantage. I think it sorts by
last-modify date. It does not do space compression, even when you fully
There is no command line interface.
There is no cluster query function to find out what is being stored in
each cluster. This makes it hard to figure out what it is thinking.
It uses two bands, rather than the traditional three, frequently-used
and infrequently-used. It correctly puts most of the frequently used files
in the outer prime real estate, but it oddly puts some of them in the
centre. I am not sure why. There is no documentation on its strategy on the
rationale for it.
It does not internally tidy either the registry or the
It used to be extremely slow at analysing disks, but that has been
includes 3 licenses.
Norton Utilities 360 is the deluxe version with the same defragger.
Particularly good at speeding up read access to files.
Fast since it does not use the klunky official defrag
It can defrag the MFT
pagefile, dirs etc. without a reboot. It places frequently accessed file
near the start of the partition.
Moves small files into the MFT
which gives them faster access and ensures they take up less space. (The
downside is the MFT needs more frequent defragging.) It is very
simple to run.
Puts frequently/infrequently accessed/modified files in separate
Places the MFT, then the pagefile, then the directories,
then the high access files. Norton’s placement makes more sense to
The rainbow hued analysis map changes in ways that make sense. Other
defraggers seem to have no method to their actions. They appear to just as
often be messing up the disk as defragging it.
It requires only one session to fully defrag the disk.
Norton defragger has been around since the DOS (Disk Operating System)
days. It was one of the first.
There are no options to configure other than the names of files you
want put near the beginning or end of the disk.
It has the disturbing quality of redefining how much of each kind of
file it has as it progresses.
Cannot defrag the first 16 clusters of the MFT
It is quite slow when it defrags small files.
Microsoft claims Symantec’s online defrag of the
is dangerous. This could just be Microsoft getting huffy over Symantec
bypassing its official klutzy defrag interface, or it could represent a
true problem. If Microsoft implemented it properly, there would be no need
for bypassing it.
The defragger is noisier than most, sounding as if it is going to shake
your disk to death.
Two different sets of utilities all on one
CD (Compact Disk), a set. For windows, make sure you
manually configure a swap file with Control Panel
⇒ System ⇒ Performance ⇒ Virtual Memory, otherwise
SpeedDisk will keep restarting, fearing writes to the temporary swap
file. It moves the swap file and directories. However under
it does not move directory entries (on FAT
partitions) and metadata files (on NTFS
partitions). It leaves them where they are, calling them unmovable files, scattered across the drive. To defrag
them, you would have to reformat the drive and reload the files, creating
all the directory entries first.
Difficult To Defrag Files
There are certain files that are
difficult to defrag because the system is using them. They have to be tidied at boot
time, before the system starts using them or by locking out a drive to all other
programs. These difficult files (often called metadata or
locked files.) include:
The registry as a set of files called hives which contain information about installed programs and general
configuration information, such as which device drivers you have installed. The
Registry. You can prune it with a registry cleaner, then compact it with NTRegopt 1.1jLast revised/verified:2012-01-01
defraggers can the make it contiguous in an offline boot-time defrag. This
includes the NTUSER.DAT files which contain the
HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive for the registry.
The MFT, the MFT
is a giant file with one entry per file with details about the file, including
where it is on disk, i.e. where all the extents (pieces)
of each file are stored. The MFT
as a whole should be defragged, and it should be internally tidied to compact
deleted entries and move related files near each other. There is some free space
after the MFT
reserved for the MFT to grow into.
$LogFile, this is where
does its journaling, doing its before looks so that it can recover if a disk
operation is interrupted by a power failure. You can change the size of this
Rem change the size of the $LogFile on C: to 65,536Kchkdsk C: /L:65536
rem correct scrambled fileschkdsk C: /F /B
rem test surfaces (very time consuming)chkdsk C: /F /B /R
The value is measured in K. If you make it bigger, the $LogFile circular buffer will be bigger. Windows uses it to track
the rollback of changes to its crucial directory and space allocation structures.
If it gets full, Windows will stall all new I/O until all the current I/O
transactions are fully completed.
directories. There is one B-tree file per directory
to allow rapid lookup by name. These files are called directories. Each directory as a whole should be defragged, and it
should be internally tidied to compact deleted entries and move related files near
The pagefile.sys backing store allows the computer to
fake having more RAM
than it really has, by spilling the least used parts of virtual
The hiberfil.sys file. This keeps track of the system
state when the machine is hibernating to conserve power.
alternate file forks)
UsnJrnl. It is a database of changes to files
and directories. It does not contain the actual changed data, just which file
changed. The Change Journal is a sparse file, allowing the purging of records
without any performance penalty. Each change is tacked on the end, and when the
file gets too big, old records from the beginning are deleted without recopying the
$bitmap. It keeps track of which clusters are in
use and which free. It does not track which files are using which clusters.
*.log files are often locked. Often you can simply
delete them, perhaps using tools the windows SDK (Software Development Kit)
. Sometimes they
grow obscenely huge.
optionally keeps shadow copies aka restore points, of crucial system files. These are snapshots so that
operating files can be restored. Vista idiotically presumes a system update is in
progress if system files are moved, and creates a snapshot. This balloons your set
of snapshots. However, if you turn the feature off, you lose the ability to
restore. A compromise it is turn them off, defrag, then turn them on again, and
hope you don’t have a problem during the defrag.
The reboot defrag usually deals well with locked files. You can reduce the
number of locked files by shutting down apps just prior to a defrag, in particular
ClipMate and Google Desktop. O&O defrag report tells you which files were locked
and how badly fragmented they are.
Defragging the Pagefile
Even a premium defragger like O&O
won’t necessarily defrag your pagefile (pagefile.sys)
or hibernate file (hiberfil.sys). You can fudge it this
way. Move the page file to a different drive temporarily, (Control Panel ⇒ System & Maintenance ⇒ System ⇒ Advanced
System Settings ⇒ Performance ⇒ Settings ⇒ Advanced Settings ⇒
Advanced ⇒ Virtual Memory ⇒ Change). Then turn off the hibernate
feature, (Click Accessories ⇒ right click on Command Prompt,
⇒ click Run as Administrator ⇒ type: powercfg -h
off), then reboot. This should cause the two files to disappear off
C:. Then defrag and check that there is now a nice big
hunk of contiguous free space on C:. Now move the page
file back to C:, reboot, then turn hibernation back on.
You don’t need to reboot, yet again. The hiberfil.sys
should be created immediately. The two files should be allocated in nice contiguous
chunks in the free space, with pagefile.sys in the prime
Alternatively, you can use PageDefrag described above, though it won’t work
Feature Comparison Matrix
defragger feature comparison
Defragger Feature Comparison
Order by least recently used
Order by least recently modified
External Registry defrag
Registry internal tidy/prune
pagefile internal defrag
VSC volume shadow copy restore points
Unfortunately, Paragon, the only defragger to internally compact the
MFT, no longer makes
Keeping Files Defragged
If you are writing code that
involves large random access files, you can keep them defragged between defrag runs
if you use this formula whenever your file runs out of space. This is not something
you can do as an end user. This is something only programmers can do. The formula
gives files a little more space than immediately needed, so
The life of an SSD will be shortened if you pound it with writes with an ordinary
disk defragger. You must use a defragger that treats SSDs specially to avoid writes.
There is also no need to position files in any particular spot since they all have
equal access time. The defragger is primarily concerned with consolidating free space
in one big lump.
The Ideal Defragger
Obviously the ideal defragger should defrag all the files, including the
metafiles. It should also optionally internally defrag the MFT
putting the most active files together, the pagefile, putting pages for a given job
together and the registry, sorting entries alphabetically and compacting out the
The ideal defragger should let you trade off speed of defragging vs speed of
operating between defrags. The user should not need to be involved with any other
details unless he wants to be. Ideally, the defragger needs to know how frequently
files are accessed/written (not just how frequently they are opened for read/write),
how frequently they change size (gain new fragments), and which files are used
together. The OS
provides only two primitive approximations, the last-modified-date and the
last-accessed-date. The ideal defragger would need to monitor file use between
defrags to get a more accurate picture. Properly, the OS
should maintain data useful for defraggers.
Real-world defraggers that organise by last-modified-date tend to be fast, since
files that need defragmenting tend to be clustered, leaving the other files already
in position. Real-world defraggers that organise by last-access-date tend to be slow,
but the other apps run faster between defrags. They not only put the most-used files
in the prime real-estate, they put files that are used together next to each
Disktrix is the only real world defragger that seems to understand the outer rim
of the disk is prime real-estate. An ideal defragger should put the most used files
there. It should avoid the inner tracks altogether, even for deadwood.
An ideal defragger should leave bands of empty space in places convenient for the
when nearby files grow. This requires studying the strategies the
uses to allocate space. It might even be possible to pre-emptively allocate extra
space to files guaranteed to grow soon, such as log files. Raxco Perfect Disk has
some ability to do this, but only if you are a techie.
Defraggers waste a lot of time sliding a group of files up or down by a few
clusters to make room for file that has grown or to close up the space once used by a
file that has been deleted. Most of the time this work can be postponed or avoided.
The sliding is a lot of work that most of the time makes utterly no difference to
performance. Sometimes the clusters have to be shifted to a temporary location then
to the final location, which makes the problem even worse. By adding empty space
buffer zones cleverly, most of this double shifting can be avoided. If you like to
watch the hypnotic display such as those in O & O, you will see that shifts go
much faster if there is a fat pocket of free space before the area to be shifted
because double shifts are not necessary.
There needs to me some experimentation on the ideal place for a temporary slot
when double shifts are needed. I strongly suspect that the first free slot, or the
innermost tracks, the strategies used by most real-world defraggers, are strongly
The defragger should tell you how badly fragmented a drive is so you can tell if
it is worthwhile to do a defrag or a boot time defrag/MFT compaction.
It should offer a few options for the hypnotic display including assigning colours
for clusters by their ultimate destination, blue near the centre and a smooth
spectrum to red near the rim. You would see a rainbow develop as the defrag
proceeded. It might assign colours based on how far a cluster is from its ultimate
destination — blue for far away in a smooth spectrum to red for in place. The
display would gradually turn red as the defrag proceeded, the metaphor being coming
home to hearth. See Wavelength for code to generate a rainbow of
I chose O & O defrag for my own
W7-64 system. Though I might flip to Raxco Perfect disk, since
it is so much faster, and handles all the metafiles.
Defraggers need intact control structures on the disk. If the disks have been
corrupted by a system crash or rogue software, running a defragger will only make
matters worse. To check for trouble and repair it click Computer
⇒ right click properties for each of your drives ⇒ click tools ⇒ check
now. Then reboot. ChkDsk will run twice on each
drive, then reboot.
Some people are worried that regular defragging will put extra wear on their
disks. Consider that undefragged files put even more wear on disks
since the fragments of fragmented files may be accessed tens of thousands of times
where it takes only one access to defrag them.
The only reasonably quick and satisfactorily thorough defragger that I know of is
Norton SpeedDisk for W95/W98/Me
9x-FAT partitions. Norton SpeedDisk 5.0 is acceptable for NTFS
, but I
think with some work it could be speeded up further to handle several small files in
a single elevator seek.
I know of no decent ones for OS/2-HPFS or Linux-ext-2 partitions. Perhaps one
could be devised that booted under its own mini-OS and defragged by copying from
partition to partition handling all the major OS
formats. It would then not need to worry about crashing, and could do the I/O,
including the directory and FAT I/O in massive buffered chunks.
With larger disks, speed becomes more important. Norton is about half the speed of
the competition. On the other hand, it gives the best performance improvement.
The Master file table traditionally goes in a band in the middle of a disk, so
don’t expect your defragger to compress it down with the other files. This
convention was designed to work well if you never defrag. When the disk gets full,
this crucial table will me in the middle of the files. You can improve performance if
you have dynamic disk
partitioning. You can shrink your partitions which will pull the
MFT nearer the files
on a sparsely populated disk partition. You can grow and shrink the
MFT with the
To write an efficient disk defragger, model how you tidy your apartment, better
still, how Martha Stewart tidies her house.