Windows

Review: Defraggler defrag hard disk utility

Defraggler has a number of features that allow users to tailor defragmentation decisions to best suit their needs and conditions.

Every PC comes with some sort of defragmentation software. For all but the most basic usage, what comes built in to Windows, while useful, does not do the best job possible. Defraggler aims to fill in the gaps by providing a smarter defragging experience.

Specifications

Who's it for?

Users who really beat up their filesystems will really appreciate Defraggler. People who do a lot of downloads, store large media files, or install and uninstall a lot of software will definitely find it useful. Users who require every last shred of performance from their system will also find Defraggler useful. PC technicians and desktop support personnel will appreciate Defraggler's ability to speed up systems.

What problems does it solve?

Not all drive defragmentation applications are created equal. Some, like the defrag tool built into Windows, are very barebones, and simply shuffle the file bits around so they are all together, with little consideration for the "big picture." That may be adequate for a low usage system, but systems that go through a lot of file writes and file deletions will need more than that. Defraggler has a number of features designed to allow users to tailor the defragmentation decisions to best suit their needs and conditions.

Standout Features

  • Cost: Defraggler is free.
  • Can defragment individual files/folders: Defraggler is able to single target certain files or folders for defragging. This is a great feature because commonly fragmented areas (say, the browser cache) can be defragged more often than the entire drive.
  • Can move items to the end of a disk: By moving large or infrequently used files to the end of the hard disk, smaller or more frequently used files can be placed near the beginning of the disk, where they can be read more quickly.
  • Offered in a USB-portable version: Defraggler can be run from a USB drive, perfect for PC technicians and desktop support people.

What's wrong?

  • Third-party software: Not everyone feels 100% comfortable with a third-party application working with their computer at such a low level.
  • Cannot defrag multiple drives at once: Unfortunately, Defraggler cannot save time by defragging more than one drive at a time.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

Most professional PC repair and support technicians know that regular, consistent defrags are part of a smooth user experience. While not defragging will not cause errors, the computer will run slower and slower over time. Sure, Windows has had defrag capabilities for a long time (and Vista and W7 even come with defrag scheduled to run weekly), but for the very best performance, you need to go beyond windows defrag and get a smarter product.

Defraggler may well be that "smarter product" for you. Its advanced features make it stand out in the defrag market. Workstation users and systems administrators will be happy to know that it can work with RAIDs, and support technicians will appreciate that it can be run from USB disk. Defraggler's extensive configurability will appeal particularly to enthusiasts and others who love to have ultimate control over their systems, as well as those users with special needs.

You can access Defraggler's functionality from a command line, making it a great choice for being run through a script or Task Scheduler. Defraggler does not need much system resources and it is a very lightweight application. Best of all, unlike some of the other defrag solutions on the market, Defraggler is free.

User rating

Have you encountered or used Defraggler? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

Read our field-tested reviews of hardware and software in TechRepublic's Product Spotlight newsletter, delivered each Thursday. We explain who would use the product and describe what problem the product is designed to solve. Automatically sign up today!

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

25 comments
RODGOUIN
RODGOUIN

I have been using all Piriform products for many years. As a tech service, I find Defraggler as an exceptional tool to add to my arsenal. Many options may be used for particular situations. I would highly recommend any or all other products from Piriform. Ha Ha, I am not affiliated with that company, however the use of their incredible products has made my customers and friends computers run like new! Most importantly, first discover what kinds of file types are in their directories. Find the largest size files and their extensions. Be sure to click on the advanced button and type in the size of your choice of large files to be moved to the end of the drive (the outer perimeter of the actual hard drive disk) you are defragmenting. The default is 250MB. I first tried 150MB for 1GB .avi files and .vob. That did not work very well. I then tried 500MB min or larger and my storage movie drive seems to be rather well organized. It is also a fun program to experiment with! Lots of options to try! Roderick Gouin, Twin Lake Services, South Carolina

Philip Golan
Philip Golan

USB option not offered for download. Found it, hidden at the bottom of the download page.

bcasner
bcasner

I had a particular hard drive that Defraggler would not progress on, even overnight. The Microsoft defragger worked in about 4 hours to completion.

Havelock
Havelock

For many years we use "Perfect Disk" from Raxco. It is fast, rock solid and has many options. A.o. it can defragment system files & directories that can't be done while Windows is running.

ssemmens
ssemmens

LOVE Defraggler. Definitely makes a difference over the plain ole Windows Disk Defrag.

stuartc
stuartc

Was using defraggler at home and wanted to replace my work PC's default defrg as well with Defraggler, but it keeped on bombing. Then I read about Auslogic on here and replace work and home PC's. Much better

cmatthews
cmatthews

I wouldn't want to use any defrag utility on multiple partitions on the same physical drive (which is most likely on a workstation). If it's a server, just schedule a Saturday night batch job like this: C:\Program Files\defraggler\df.exe C: C:\Program Files\defraggler\df.exe D: C:\Program Files\defraggler\df.exe E: etc.. It can't be that hard, can it? Go to the prompt. CD into the defraggler folder and type "df.exe /?" It's amazing what you find when sleuthing. (eg: you can use it exclusively on some nasty data-base instead of the whole drive..) SMP - To run multiple DF.exe simultaneously seems harder since it's probably not SMP aware. It seems to use "Kernel Spinlocks" a lot when viewed with Process Explorer. On a server you'd have to use multiple CMD shells with the START command with an /AFFINITY switch to pin DF.exe down to a single core. Try it, if speed is required, but use only one instance per core... On a workstation you should be able to use PsExec -a to get multiple cmd instances running. Note: PsExec is part of the PsTools package at Microsoft Technet (www.sysinternals.com)

HomeschoolNut
HomeschoolNut

I am new to Defraggler, but am glad to have it. I have XP machines myself, but my mom went to live with my brother for a while a few months ago, and was appalled at the condition of his machine. I won't even go into it. She tried the Vista defragger, this being our first real experience with Vista. After running overnight, it still wasn't finished. I started looking things up online, and what I found about Vista's defragger I didn't like. I knew of Defraggler, but hadn't tried it. I had her download it, and I downloaded it here, so I could guide her through installation and the running of the program. When it was finished, I had her reboot. It made a really huge difference in the performance of my brother's machine! Now, after reading this article, I might give it a go on my other XP machines. Thank you!

kb6252
kb6252

I've been using it for at least a year now with no problems.

raid0
raid0

I use Deffragler and Auslogics on all our Vista machines due to the poor built-in defrag. Both are very efficient and fast.

kdavis
kdavis

How fast is this tool? Windows defragger can take all night, and I don't have THAT many files or applications on my machine.

DavidSte
DavidSte

I've bene using defraggler for a while now and it does what it says on the tin. I can't say I've ever encountered a defrag related performance issue on a disk though in the 15 years I've been in IT

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

With the huge sizes of hard disks these days, is defragmentation of a hard drive still important? Less important? More important?

PoppaTab
PoppaTab

Back in 2000 or 2001 I expressed my dislike of having my personal machine take all night. A friend told me to give Diskeeper and I was impressed (very fast), but no file compression unless boot defrag was used. I stuck with DK for a long time. Another friend pointed out open-source 3-4 years ago where I have become enamored to the open source movement. I found Defraggler at least a year or so ago and began to use it. I was fairly happy with the program, but still used DK for boot time defrag. A few weeks ago I learned of SmartDefrag in a post about UltraDefrag. Ultra did not work on win 7 so it was tossed. Disk Keeper took one look at a 1 TiB drive on home machine and demanded more money. I installed SmartDefrag a few weeks ago and punted both DK and Defraggler off Win 7 and Win XP machines. I am delighted with SD because it is faster than Defraggler and demands no money as Diskeeper.

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

...seems to be faster than the MS tool.

raid0
raid0

Sometimes defrag will complete within minutes. Auslogics is another great defrag tool. Also free.

Stargazer_Ken
Stargazer_Ken

I tend to be a compulsive defragger. The more the head has to move around the drive, the slower things are. I have seen machines that were crawling and perked up after a defrag. True, they were very badly fragmented. If you have a file that is broken into 1000 fragments and it takes 10ms average to seek to each fragment, that's an extra 10 seconds to read that file. I haven't run defraggler but will give it a peek. I have used JKDefrag which has been released under a new name MyDefrag. http://www.mydefrag.com/ It's pretty good with a lot of options. It's also free. Ken

jimmywren
jimmywren

I thought about trying the third party defrag since you wrote that it was free. Where can you download the program for free? Everytime I clicked on the download button the page would go to 'DONATE.' I tried all the links on the page but no download without a 'DONATION.'

vindasel
vindasel

I've tried defraggler but it simply doesn't have the features of the Diskeeper 2009 Pro that I use on my home desktop. While Diskeeper has system files defrag, auto defrag, simultaneous multi-drive defrag etc, defraggler unfortunately lacks these useful features; so DK is not getting uninstalled from my machine any time soon.

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

I've been defragging since I bought Disk Optimiser for DOS back in the 80s. The MS 'effort' is so slow, a noob might think that defrag is not worth the time. In addition to _proper_partitioning_, defrag is even more important with huge drives. They aren't _that_ fast. Speed has not kept up with capacity. At least use Auslogics. I often use Ultra defrag, as it's even faster. (Not as thorough.) First time I tried 'Smart', it bugged, and recovery was easy. Will try it again. Will try Defraggler. I am not happy with DK, and it _costs_.

raybrizzi
raybrizzi

I tried diskkeeper, ran on a 500gb drive with tons of files, and didn't notice any difference before or after. It's one of those things that makes people feel good (or a good tool for tech support people to put complaining users off for an hour or two.) Getting rid of all those little startup stub programs through msconfig or getting more memory does a thousand times more.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'd say importance depends on the drive. Hard drives are getting faster and lag imposed by fragmented files is becoming less noticeable. - faster AV active scans means less chance of disabled AV scanner - faster backups means they'll more often be allowed to run - organized files on the platter means easier disk imaging and partition management If it's FAT or NTFS, the system still benefits from defrag even if the human perceived delay is reduced as disks read faster. Other filesystems are designed to do there own defrag so they're not left out; they just don't need the extra utility. Now, if it's Flash storage; don't touch it. With no physical moving parts, flash drives don't benefit from defrag. Much the oposite infact; defrag causes the files to be read and written which quickly reduces the life-span of the storage drive. Worse still, flash storage does it's own defrag and even wear management so your not only using up the flash chip's read/write limit but your also working against the flashdrive's build in mechanisms for maximizing the lifespan of your storage.

Justin James
Justin James

I went to the web site, clicked "Download". I see the "Donate" buttons, but if you look right below them, there are links to download, one says "Download from FileHippo" the other says "Alternative Download". J.Ja

Eric Hall
Eric Hall

Thanks for the heads up on defragmentation of a flash drive. I had no idea that a dimunition of the device would result.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I chewed a flashdrive in about a week before I stumbled on that little bit of information. Ah so long ago now when a 1gig was a big flashdrive.

Editor's Picks