When I first began using Windows Vista, I was very pleased to see that Microsoft had finally added scheduling capability to the Disk Defragmenter utility included in the operating system. In fact, right out of the box, Disk Defragmenter is scheduled to defragment your hard disk once a week in the middle of the night.

As you know, disk fragmentation is a normal occurrence that happens over time as you use your hard disk. Chances are that you also know that disk fragmentation can be the source of huge performance degradation if left unchecked. As such, having Disk Defragmenter automatically set up to defragment your hard disk on a regular schedule is a tremendous performance enhancement as this means that the hard disk will never become so fragmented as to degrade performance.

Since Disk Defragmenter is designed to run on its own when your computer is idle, Microsoft decided that there was no longer a need for a fancy user interface that showed colored blocks or lines being shuffled around as the tool reorganized the clusters on the hard disk. Furthermore, there was no need for any kind of reporting to be generated by the UI. In fact, Disk Defragmenter was designed to run without your really needing to know about it at all.

Of course, many, many folks have been up in arms about this lack of feedback. They miss the colored display and the reports. While I haven’t felt this loss, I know that many of you have, and I can sympathize with that. However, I have been completely satisfied with this essentially invisible and functional Disk Defragmenter system in Windows Vista. As long as it keeps my hard disk defragmented and my system running smoothly, it’s one less thing that I need to worry about.

Then, last week my brother told me about Auslogics Disk Defrag. Upon his repeated claims that Auslogics Disk Defrag is a great a tool and the fact that it is absolutely FREE, I broke down and decided to take a closer look. As I experimented with Auslogics Disk Defrag on my test system, I discovered that it is a very nice utility and it does an excellent job of quickly defragmenting a hard disk.

In this edition of the Windows Vista Report, I’ll introduce you to Auslogics Disk Defrag. As I do, I’ll point out some of the features that make it a worthwhile opponent to Vista’s built-in Disk Defragmenter — I’ll also point out a few drawbacks.

Getting Auslogics Disk Defrag

You can download Auslogics Disk Defrag from the Auslogics Web site as well as from CNET download. Once you download it, installation is a snap, and you’ll be ready to defrag your hard disk in no time.

Getting ready

After you have installed Auslogics Disk Defrag, you can use the shortcut to launch it. Of course, you’ll have to deal with a UAC first. You’ll then see the opening screen shown in Figure A. This straightforward, yet informative, UI is one of the features that I admired immediately — you get a nice disk usage map as well as specifics on disk usage.

Figure A

The opening screen features a disk map and disk usage information.

By default, the disk selection drop-down menu will show any internal and external hard disks that you have connected to your computer. As an added benefit, Auslogics Disk Defrag can also defragment your thumb drives and other removable drives. To enable this support, you just click the Settings button. When the Auslogics Settings dialog box appears, just click on the Defragmentation tab and select the Display Removable Drives check box, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

You can configure Auslogics Disk Defrag to defragment thumb drives and specify other useful settings.

If you wish, you can also allow Auslogics Disk Defrag to remove temporary files before it runs. This is a nice touch, since this is something that will indeed speed up the defragmenting procedure — no sense wasting time defragmenting unnecessary files — and since this is something that many folks forget to do. You can also specify a CPU setting to essentially set the priority level at which you want the program to run. The default is Normal, but as you can see, I selected the Highest setting.

When you return to the main screen, you’ll be able to select a removable drive from the list of drives, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Once you configure it, thumb drives will appear on the disk selection menu.


Once you configure Auslogics Disk Defrag and select a drive to defragment, just click the Next button. As soon as you do, you’ll see the Disk Fragmentation Map and will be able to watch your hard disk being defragmented, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

The Disk Fragmentation Map will visually keep you apprised of the defragmentation operation.

When the procedure is complete, you’ll see a summary screen, as shown in Figure E. As you can see, because Windows Vista’s built-in Disk Defragmenter has been running regularly on this system, there really wasn’t much fragmentation to deal with. (Since Auslogics Disk Defrag also runs on Windows XP, I installed it on a couple XP systems and found the defragmentation operation to be very quick and very thorough on heavily fragmented hard disks.)

Figure E

The summary screen give you a quick overview of the defrag operation.

You can see that this screen also mentions junk files and contains a link to a sales pitch for another Auslogics program called BoostSpeed, which costs $30. While finding a sales pitch in a program is a drawback, since Disk Defrag is free, you have to figure that Auslogics has to sell other products to stay in business.

If you click the Display Report button, you’ll see a very detailed report of the defragmentation operation, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

This detailed report provides lots of feedback on the defragmentation operation.

The drawbacks

While Auslogics Disk Defrag is very quick and provides you with many useful features, it does have a couple of drawbacks when compared to Vista’s built-in Disk Defragmenter. First, it doesn’t have scheduling capability — you have to run it manually. Second, it doesn’t have a command-line component, which many folks find useful.

What’s your take?

Are you saddened by the lack of feedback in Vista’s built-in Disk Defragmenter? Are you likely to experiment with Auslogics Disk Defrag? Do you use another disk defragmenting tool? Please drop by the Discussion Area and let us hear from you.