Storage

Review Spotlight: Hard drive defrag applications roundup

A plethora of defrag applications

Hard drive defrag applications are plentiful. This roundup photo gallery provides a quick glance at the applications TechRepublic has reviewed over the past year or so. However, we are open to reviewing more. Let us know if your favorite defrag tool has been overlooked.

Detailed reviews with specification details, pricing, and list of features are linked in the descriptions for each of the following images.

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

96 comments
sysdev
sysdev

I have used Diskeeper since it first came out. I have also used several other defragment products. Some were pretty good, others were not so good. I have been participating in the field testing for Diskeeper for a few years and up until Diskeeper 2010, there was still some competition. With Diskeeper 2010, Diskeeper added the Intelliwrite' feature. This blows away A:: the competition. Intelliwrite prevents much/most (depending upon resources) from even happening. Coupled with its automatic defragmenting when there are idle resources, there is no longer any competetion. Single user or network. My system has 2.5 Tb of hard drive storage and I frequently have several items running (I am running a very fast machine), and at the end of the day, when I am about to shut down, there is little to no fragmentation on any of my hard drives. This is without doing anything myself. It is truely a set it and forget it situation.

pgit
pgit

The malware tool Advanced System Care has a defrag tool included. Not sure how it measures up, but in the process of de-gunking a machine we'll run the defrag, if it indicates a problem. It almost always does report some fragmentation, it'll list # of fragmented files, sometimes as few as a couple dozen but more often in the hundreds.

Regulus
Regulus

Oh where, oh where, oh where is the 'Printable' and / or PDF version to be? How often do we have to ask for this?

ramsys
ramsys

I have not seen any scientific and objective study on disk fragmentation/defragmentation yet. Please let me know if I have missed one.

?vatar
?vatar

One supposes that most have noticed the updated forms in the screenshots. These are either Vista or Win7 screenshots. If you're not up on the latest with Vista/Win7, the OS watches for "integrity Violations." The only way to truly use any of these products is to replace the installed versions with the third party applications (read the next paragraphs to see why). This will result in integrity violations as the OSes see foreign versions of system files. Vista and Win7 still do partial defrags just as XP did. And Windows calculates boot times based on these measurements. Would any of these 3rd party apps do the same, even if they use the Windows APIs (as all of them must)? Call it what you will but, I don't think replacing the installed versions is a good idea, even if you tell the Windows defrag applications to cease and desist, they will still do partial defrags as they see fit. It would seem counterproductive to have your 3rd party defrag application's work undone by the native Windows apps, which will happen sooner or later, unless you have replaced the native Windows apps (not a good idea). Personally, I can't really see why speed matters (one can always find a time when it's more or less convenient, servers notwithstanding). It's how well the application does its job that counts. Vista and WIn7 are "set it and forget it" by design. If you really feel the need to do an on the fly defrag, do it from the command line where you can specify the priority (the /h option) for speed. This is handy for all those program, driver installs and uninstalls. You also should be aware that the native APIs are fully safe to run in Vista and Win7. Canceling the operation doesn't introduce any disk anomalies where, in XP, it might. I'd have to be assured that 3rd party apps are equally safe. Just because 3rd party apps might use native APIs doesn't mean the coding is written with the same goals in mind. So, from Vista forth, the best defrag tools are probably Microsoft's. That's my 2 cents and no one is obliged to feel the same.

wwgorman
wwgorman

I am using Diskeeper and it certainly gives the impression that it is keeping the drives defragmented. However, when running the free WinUtilities Defrag program that analysis shows considerable fragmentation. I sent reports and pictures to Diskeeper but they have failed (after 3 weeks) to provide an answer as to why there is such a difference of the analyses.

mdtallon
mdtallon

Does anyone remember a set of third party utilities, circa 1986, that had a defrag program? "___ Utilities", I believe the company was Elephant Software or something similar.

mdtallon
mdtallon

If I never had to deal with defragging a Vista machine, I might never have been motivated enough to find an alternate defragger (probably not since PCTools "compress"). Thanks MS! I'm partial to Defraggler.

saladbar821
saladbar821

I've used MyDefrag since it was JKDefrag and it always works wonders for me. If you have time, just let it run and you're good to go. As a tip (really with any defrag), always run in Safe Mode because programs (including anti-viruses) aren't running that may hold data and make it unmovable.

tom
tom

I have always used VOPT from GoldenBow software and it has always been fast and efficient. Their web site is www.goldenbow.com.

cmherrmann
cmherrmann

If you don't want all the glitter of the fancy interface try JkDefrag, it works on all versions of Windows, is very simple and does not require an install. It can be run from a Flash Drive.

joe935
joe935

Defragging is a good idea, but unless the defrag operation also has a feature the closes up spaces on the hard disk you will only have to defrag more often. I am looking for a freeware program that will accomplish this. Anyone???

vwchest
vwchest

I have Windows XP and use Smart Defrag v1.45. When I first installed it, I had to take the time to fully defragment my hard drives both internal and external. The program runs as a system process and resides in the system tray. The program defragments files on the fly thus keeping target drives perpetually defragmented. It has been peacefully coexisting with Avast Antivirus, PC Tools Firewall Plus, Scotty WinPatrol, MicroSoft Security Essentials, Spyware Terminator and Threatfire. I have not had any computer freeze-ups or crashes as a result of using it that I know of. I ran a defragmentation test using Windows Explorer (Right Click on drive-Properties-Tools-Defragment Now-Select Drive-Analyze) and it reported that no drive needed defragmenting at the time of this posting. I would recommend Smart Defrag v1.45.

cincyjs
cincyjs

Smart Defrag is an excellent free defrag program that operates in th ebackground and auto defrags while you work. Painless,fast, easy to use and just a great program. Probably not quite as good as Diskkeeper, but Smart Defrag is free.

KeithTT
KeithTT

Haven't done a defrag for many years and don't consider it necessary.

mickames
mickames

WHat about Magical Defrag?

nasdat
nasdat

looks like you missed disktrix's products [disktrix.com] a new version of UltimateDefrag is 'coming soon' there is also a product for 'bonehead users' => DefragExpress ... these are reasonably priced, have free demo's , and work well /// also the format of your content was difficult to read => I would have watched a video ad to see things uncluttered (like as a full screen slide show)

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

...that link is that he has not updated his 'thumbs down' reviews from years ago. Utilities that he tested in beta or v.1 have evolved, and some have improved.

wchang13
wchang13

I've used a few other Defrag programs but none on this list I was actually looknig at O&O's defrag tool as well, but once I used jkdefrag and noticed how quick it defrags system and the performance gain they see from one defrag, I've been using it ever since. Just like G-Man I have it running every night on highly utilized PC's and I have no complaints.

nestorb
nestorb

I wonder that fragmenting files which was a "feature" when magnetic media was quite small is not longer needed. Do other file systems do not fragment files unless strictly needed...? Why Microsoft have not solved this issue? I have a 1 Tb almost new system and Win 7 64 have fragmented it besides having more than plenty enough space not to do so. I wonder if Unix like systems fragment files...

zed.wagner
zed.wagner

Have you considered the net total effect of sloppy code that wastes electricity? I will give you a real world example. From a bit for bit cloned drive: Auslogic's Defrag ran circles around the windows defrag tool, literally 2 minutes 15 seconds to defrag 841 files. Windows Defrag tool finished the exact same job after 5 hours and 15 minutes. I have had many client's windows pcs get loop-hung in continuously restarting scan-defrags after contents change because of its own process for countless hours. Unless everyone is powering their Pcs, laptops, and servers from clean solar, wind or hydro-thermal then there is a very significant amount of pollution that comes as a direct result from wasted Gigahertz.

Dziudziuk
Dziudziuk

I agree - Diskeeper (now 2010)simply works. But for strong defrag before full backups I do ( ? 1x pro month) defrag with Paragon Total Defrag ((now 2010) (in Paragon Hard Disk Manager 2010 Pro or Server). Computers with: Ms Windows XP Pro and Ms Windows 7 Ultimate. And it works for me now for years. Luck or choice??? Clear temp files and tray diskeeper boot defrag. Check configuration from properties (InteliWrite, Automatic Defragmentation, I-FAAST. "DK" will do everythink for YOU!!! ;)

dpresley_50201
dpresley_50201

The package was called Norton Utilities and it had a defrag app called Speed Disk that was pretty good for its time; so good MS adopted it for MS-DOS 6 and Win 9x. Central Point Software had a competing suite called PC Tools that had a defrag app called Compress. That was the one I used since I could set the order in which files were physically placed on the drive and optimized a drive as well as Speed Disk.

Keith Hailey
Keith Hailey

That might have been the period when Norton Speedisk morphed into Norton Utilities. I never used Speedisk, opting to Central Point Software's Compress in PCTools (I miss PCTools).

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

...tho' in that time period I started using Disk Optimizer from SoftLogic Solutions, and subsequently, also Compress in PCTools from Central Point Software.

laymanj
laymanj

Vopt (pronounced vee-opt) is an often overlooked entry in this field, but it's the granddaddy of defraggers and still probably the fastest. It has fallen into obscurity because it has zero slick promotion and the Web site is, well, -er-, 'spartan'. Don't let the crummy Web site foolya.

iambrock
iambrock

It's called my defrag now. Mydefrag.com.

1scout1
1scout1

ashampoo.com has some nice utils. I think they recover free space between files.

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

_That's_ what a defragger _does_. It closes up spaces within files, and closes up spaces _between_ files.

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

I think that Smart Defrag is _better_ than Diskeeper. When I ran Diskeeper, it slowed my whole system. Smart Defrag's Auto Defrag did not slow things down, and did just as good a job.

Zeppo9191
Zeppo9191

Unless you're using a solid state drive, I'd be willing to bet you'll see a noticeable improvement during read/write functions, especially for large files. Boot time will improve, too. I can't tell you how often I've improved the response time of a user's computer simply by clearing temp files and defragging.

Mark A. Lewis
Mark A. Lewis

If I don't run a defrag about one a month, my system performance degrades. Maybe it's because I don't have high-end processor or hardware power.

ctrogers
ctrogers

It is fairly trivial for a vendor to setup a benchmark to make a competitor look bad. What matters is real world and not everyone has the same equipment or circumstances. If that app works that much better for you, then good; however, Windows' defrag is quite quick and efficient on my system, automatically runs on a weekly basis, is quite trustworthy, and has the bonus of being free.

mdtallon
mdtallon

I know PCTools was early in the MS game, and compress rings a bell. I just recall a utility disk: red, 5?, with a logo of a Bull Elephant. Maybe just confusing the two. Maybe some LIM drivers for my Above Boards. 8^)

joe935
joe935

A defraggger in and of itself will only move fragmented segments of a file so they are all contiguous. It does not remove spaces between files. So the next time a file is loaded onto a hard drive the OS will start writing into the open space and if that space is not large enough to contain the complete file it will them go to the next free space to continue writing the file and this is how files get fragmented.

Zwort
Zwort

Yes indeed. MS bundled a tape backup app with an early version of windows. I used 500Mb Jumbo tape streamer, which seemed to be the ultimate in (file) data protection, after the necessary system backups had been done from DOS. As for LIMS... ...I thought most of the world had forgotten it.

dpresley_50201
dpresley_50201

are Elephant Memory Systems brand, a subsidiary of Dennison Products. I used them back in the day when I had my old Atari 8-bits. Good quality disks IIRC.

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

...program you have used, none that I have used (since Disk Optimizer in the late 80s)has failed to eliminate free space between files. Files get fragmented by being changed so that they require more space than originally allocated. (Or, by being written to a disk that has fragmented free space.)