There are a large number of defrag applications out there, but few are designed with the needs of a server in mind. PerfectDisk Server takes the highly customizable workstation version and applies it to the server room.

Note: This review was performed with a “not for resale” version of the application which the vendor provided to TechRepublic for review purposes.

Specifications

  • Product: PerfectDisk 11 Server
  • Cost: $99.99 (volume discounts available)
  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2008 R2, includes 32-bit and 64-bit versions
  • Supported file systems: FAT16 / FAT32 / NTFS / exFAT / Flash / USB / SSD Drives, SAN/RAID/Mirrored Disks/Letter-less Drives
  • Additional Information: Product Web site
  • TechRepublic Photo Gallery

Who’s it for?

System administrators who want more control over their servers’ defragmentation will want to look at PerfectDisk Server. However, if you are not running Windows Server, PerfectDisk Server is not for you.

What problems does it solve?

Standard disk defragmentation applications usually do not offer very much customization of defragging algorithms, but PerfectDisk really lets you tune the defragging to meet your servers’ workloads, on a per-disk basis. It can also be hooked up to PerfectDisk Enterprise Console for central management. Its StealthPatrol background defragging is very customizable, allowing you to ensure that defrag does not interfere with crucial server applications.

Standout features

  • StealthPatrol: The StealthPatrol background defragging system allows you to get defragging done during idle times (and can even be disabled when certain processes are running), which is important for an “always on” server that might not have predictable stretches of downtime.
  • Customizable Optimization: The SMARTPlacement system is the most configurable defragging system I’ve seen; it lets you pick defragging algorithms on a per-disk basis, and then customize them even further.
  • Central Administration: PerfectDisk Server integrates with the Enterprise Console system for centralized management.

What’s wrong?

Separate Purchase for Management: It would be nice if PerfectDisk Server could be controlled via Group Policy or managed through SNMP (or have an SCOM connector) instead of requiring the buying and using a separate tool.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

So far, I only know of two defragging products explicitly marketed towards servers, Diskeeper Server and PerfectDisk Server. PerfectDisk Server is indistinguishable from their Workstation product at a feature and UI level, other than being SQL Server and Exchange aware (which are important features). That being said, the complexity of PerfectDisk makes a lot of sense in the server room. Servers are usually under much more load than desktops and laptops, and the loads are often fairly different from server to server. As a result, the various charts and graphs, and customization options which I felt were really too much for typical business user, make a lot of sense for a server product.

The biggest ding on PerfectDisk Server is that the Enterprise Management console should either be free, or PerfectDisk professional should also hook into Group Policy, SNMP, and possibly provide connectors for SCOM. For a product designed for Windows networks, it really should be manageable through the standard management systems out there that use SNMP and work with Group Policy.

If you are a system administrator and want extremely tunable defragging options for your servers, PerfectDisk 11 Server has it.

User rating

Have you encountered or used PerfectDisk 11 Server? 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.

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Default screen

This is the default screen in PerfectDisk Professional; it is a pretty busy screen if all you want to do is a simple disk defrag, but it is quite useful if you are into performance tuning.

Settings

As a nice touch, the first time you launch PerfectDisk, it allows you to change the most important settings.

Drive map

After analyzing a disk, PerfectDisk presents the kind of drive map that you would expect.

Space Management

The Space Management tab is where much of the extra feature like the Recycler analysis (shown) and the duplicate file finder is found.

Tweak

The settings area lets you really tweak how AutoPilot (scheduled defrags) and StealthPatrol (background defragging) use resources. This level of control just does not exist in other products.

SMARTPlacement

Not only can you choose a SMARTPlacement algorithm, but you can customize it. The icing on the cake? You can use a different algorithm for each drive. Talk about control in the quest for performance!