Optimize Your Hard Drive with Defraggler

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    "Optimize Your Hard Drive with Defraggler" introduces Piriform's Defraggler software as a worthy program with which to defrag and optimize your computer's hard disks. A discussion of the controversy surrounding the fragmentation of modern hard drives is followed by an overview of the Defraggler software.

    Optimize Your Hard Drive with Defraggler

    The benefit in defragmenting files on modern hard drives remains a controversial subject in the realms of personal computing. Years ago there was less disagreement as to the effectiveness of file defragmentation. However, in our day when the NTFS file system rules (this is the file system native to XP, Vista, and Windows 7) the roost, and has many self healing qualities, and hard drives are faster than ever, there is strong disagreement as to the necessity of including a defrag routine in everyone's PC preventive maintenance arsenal.

    Some say the very speed of modern drives makes it foolish to take the time to defrag a hard drive. However, while drives are more efficient than ever, they are also getting extremely large. I started playing around with home computers when you typically used an audio cassette player/recorder to load programs and data into the computer. And yes, I am talking about standard audio tape recorders, not some special data tape recording device. When I purchased my first 10 megabyte hard drive, I thought I had infinite storage capacity. Now, possession of 1 terabyte and larger hard drives in personal computers are commonplace. A terabyte is actually 1,024 gigabytes, but for the sake of illustration, we will assume a terabyte to be 1,000 gigabytes. If you run the analyzer routine of your defragmenting software, and it only shows 1% defragmentation, the common reaction is "no big deal". Some defragmentation programs will advise there to be no reason to defrag at this time. However, if you think about it, 1% file fragmentation on a 1 terabyte hard drive means you have 10 gigabytes of fragmented files. Any way you cut it, 10 gigabytes is a lot of space. When you factor in that today's processors and memory are so fast, the hard drive still remains a huge performance bottleneck in personal computers.

    File fragmentation is defined as the scattering of file clusters over the surface of the hard disk, which occurs over time due to read and write activities, file deletions and creations. The goal of defragmenting the files is to gather all the bits of scattered files and organize them in contiguous clusters on the disk. For example, this relocates all contents of "file A" so they are physically adjacent to each other on the hard drive, reducing the time and mechanical wear involved in gathering all bits of the file from one end of the drive to the other when loading the file into memory.

    Perhaps 10 gigabytes of fragmentation is not worth the time and wear on the drive to defrag the files. However, I remain unconvinced of the validity of that premise. As a bonus, many defrag programs do more than just defrag files. They also optimize your files while defragmentation is under way. Optimization is the process in which the software analyzes the frequency of access to files on your hard drive, places all programs and files that load on startup, and those most often used, at the front of your hard disk to enhance the efficiency of file operations.

    Windows 7, like its predecessors, includes a program called Disk Defragmenter. This software is an improvement over the ones included in XP and Vista. It is also scheduled to automatically run each Wednesday at 1:00 AM. Disk Defragmenter defrags and optimizes your hard drive(s). Disk Defragmenter will also ignore fragmented files 64MB and larger. This is a good feature as their reason for the limitation is the negligible performance gain at the cost of considerable hard drive wear in defragging such files. The drive map that allows you to see the defragmentation process as it is running is no longer included in the program, so it is pretty much invisible as it does the job.

    If you do not leave your computer on all night, and Disk Defragmenter misses its launch window, it will start up the when it finds your computer idle after your next startup. Defragmenter will pause if you begin any activity on your computer, but on again and off again defragging can take forever. For this reason, I removed the program from automatic scheduling so it has to be run manually.
    In the course of using the software, I downloaded and installed free alternative defrag programs for testing and evaluation. The one I settled on as my favorite is Defraggler by Piriform, the people who developed and made CCleaner available, which I have touched on in another article.

    Defraggler will defrag and optimize your entire hard drive or you can choose to defrag large single files on your disk. You can also click on each of the color blocks on the drive graphic to view a list of files in that block. Defraggler is faster than the Windows Defragmenter, and you can set it to run on a schedule if you so desire. Defraggler is available for all Windows versions from Windows 2000 through Windows 7, including 32 bit or 64 bit.

    You can see more information about Defraggler and download the program from Piriform's web site.

    Any questions or comments are welcome and appreciated.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 24, '17
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  3. by   lstSmile
    So does this mean Defragger (over the Windows included version) is Considerably faster? (Because that seems to be the only plus side you mentioned in the article.)

    I will have to Defrag soon and your article has convinced me not to ignore it because I have a 'larger' hard drive .
  4. by   CaptainPC
    You should find Defraggler to be somewhat quicker than the Windows 7 built in Defrag routine. However, both will do a great job at reducing file fragmentation on your hard drive.