Best Free Disk De-fragmenter

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Introduction

Fragmentation: why it happens

Suppose you are browsing the web, downloading your favorite songs and installing an application all at the same time, how does your system write all these files without any interruption to your activity? Well it's simple: it responds to all applications' write requests (I/O operations) by writing all files at a continuous location on your disk.

Representation of a disk track:

(Fig. 1)

Yellow: Temporary written internet files
Red: Installation (Game)
Blue: Song cache

The purpose of disk defragmenters is to reorganize such files which are supposed to be together. An ideal situation after defragmentation would look like this:

(Fig. 2)

But what happens when you uninstall, delete, or simply clean your temporary files? Imagine yourself uninstalling the application (game) you installed. The disk could look like this:

(Fig. 3)

The white zone is empty space without fragmentation. A disk looking like this will have just a little or even imperceptible impact on performance. In this case defragmentation is needed but not critical.

The last thing you want to see is a hybrid combination. Files very fragmented fig 1 and empty disk space fig3 but instead of contiguous clean sectors you'll find what we call fragmented empty space. And this is what it looks like:

(Fig. 4)

This is the worst case scenario. Overall system performance will be compromised and fragmentation is critical. You should defragment (defrag) or let your defragmenter schedule and execute the defrag process for you.

Standard mechanical HDDs (hard disk drives) will benefit from defragmentation and continuous disk use, because when spinning it keeps remagnetizing the HDD plates. But if you own an SSD (solid state drive) you SHOULD NOT defrag or install any defragmenter application because it will shorten the life of the drive.

So when testing defragmenter software we are going to evaluate it with some parameters:

  • Speed of analysis on fragmented files: Isn't it speed we want from our computer?
  • Speed of defrag
  • Some extras: such as scheduled defrag, shutdown PC when done, etc.
  • Defrag capabilities: why is this placed in last position? Because almost all of today’s defragmenters can perform this task with very similar results.

Well, it's time for action now and let me introduce you to the de-fragmenters.

 
Discussion

UltraDefragUltraDefrag is simple yet has a lot of customizable options through text files and scripts via two mouse-clicks. Not only is the defragmentation super fast, but also you are not going to notice it's working! You can keep doing your things while UltraDefrag does what was born to do… defrag. It performs so well you are going to want to carry it in your wallet. A lot of varied boot defrag commands. If your goal is to optimize your system startup at maximum, this is what you need.

 

MyDefragMyDefrag, JK defrag with a GUI (Graphical User Interface). Bad? No, just awesome!

Unbelievable power user options for everyone without having to configure any script. Just select the option that best suits your needs and it's done. MyDefrag employs an algorithm that places the most used files at the beginning of the disk. This decreases access times because the actuator arm of the hard drive has no need to move to the end of a disk to search a file.

If you don't know what a HDD looks like, please see below:

The trick revealed and a little science.

When you turn off your computer (or Windows shut downs your HDD), the actuator arm has a designated "landing zone" (a specific sector at the beginning of the disk) that remains stationary until the next startup. This is to avoid disk scratch and therefore, data loss (data is read via magnetism, touching surfaces is not required). When turned back on, the closest sector to the actuator arm is already near the "landing zone" (beginning of the disk) so it's faster to read files on that sector than others in outer zones of the disk.

Also, the surface distance travelled is considerably less in the inner sectors of the disk. So, placing files at the beginning of the disk is the best idea.

MyDefrag is not the only defragmenter capable of doing this, as many others include an option. However, MyDefrag achieves this in a much simpler way. This is combined with a good “fast defrag”; the choice of specific options, many others by scripting, and excellent defragmentation methods and simple scheduler options.

 

This little boy, DiskTune, is not exactly a kid. Despite the use of Windows API to do defragmentation jobs, it's incredibly fast, simple and lightweight. Many useful options just a couple pixels of distance. Direct access to usual options such as Analyze, Defrag (quick), Optimize (rearrange) and Compact (defrag free space). The best thing about DiskTune? The ability to create a shortcut to your desktop and then double-clicking it to run a fully customized defrag. Four words—“one size fits all”.

 

Defraggler thumbnailPiriform's Defraggler—The first thing that caught my attention when first opening Defraggler was a green word, GOOD. I quickly realized it was telling me about S.M.A.R.T. Status (information provided by the disk itself, reporting temperature etc). This is a great feature and has its own tab on the program for detailed view.

In terms of defragmentation ability, Defraggler is one of the best choices you could make. It performs a very fast “quick defragmentation” with decent file reorganization but if you perform a complete defrag process, which takes longer, you obtain results that are worthwhile. Your files will be together as they should be as solid as a concrete wall. Defraggler also supports scheduling, low priority and boot defrag. Highly recommended.

 

MyDefragmenterMyDefragmenter, Ultradefrag with a very simple, intuitive GUI plus a full scheduler which has the ability to program defrag while shutting down or starting up computer. Includes a 24/7 support by phone call and online help.

 

Auslogics Disk Defrag thumbnailAuslogics Disk Defrag is another quality disk defragmentation program. During a fresh installation the installer asked if I wanted to install a Tool Bar and/or change my home page. These were easily de-selected before the installation process began. Auslogics Disk Defrag can be ran from a easy to understand GUI (Graphical User Interface) or you can use the command line tool for more advanced users. Auslogics also optimizes defragmented files and space by defragmenting free space and moving system files to the fastest part of the disk. The software is designed to defrag multi-terabyte volumes. If you choose you can defragment a particular folder or a single file by selecting the file out of a list of fragmented files. The program is set-up for automated defragmentation and will allow you to analyze your disks before you defragment. Auslogics also has a portable version available which can be run directly from your USB drive. Both versions are free and are allow for home or commercial use. The developers also have several articles regarding defragmenting your hard drive including How to defrag your drives the right way: 7 defrag tricks to learn today". This article includes topics such as temporary files and how to prevent the loss of your system restore points. The software only supports 64 bit on Windows 7/8 operating systems. The developers have updated this software twenty-four times in the last thirty four months, eleven of those were in 2012. Needless to say continued development of the product remains strong.  I have used this program on all of my computers for the last couple of years without any issues. Operating systems I have successfully operated on include XP 32bit; Windows 7 32 & 64bit.

 

Also reviewed but not included:

-Puran Defragmenter

-O&O defrag free edition

-Others

 

Feel free to suggest any software not already mentioned for review.

 
Quick Selection Guide

UltraDefrag
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
System files defragmentation. Incredibly fast in all tasks. Power (scripting) features.
Some settings only accessible by configuration file (txt).
6.0.2
681.6 KB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
This version will install on PCs running: Windows XP / 2003 / Vista / Windows7 / XP64 / Vista64 / Windows7 64
MyDefrag
4.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
For average and power users
Not regularly updated
4.3.1
2.035 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 2000, 2003, XP, Vista, 2008, Win7, and for X64.
DiskTune
4.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Very Fast. Can create shortcut to double click customized defrag.
Windows API. Needs to improve system resources usage
1.1.31
1.06 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
This version will install on PCs running: Windows XP / 2003 / Vista / Windows7 / XP64 / Vista64 / Windows7 64
Defraggler
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Very solid piece of software. Updated regularly. Now with S.M.A.R.T. monitoring.
No optimization feature yet.
http://www.defraggler.com/
2.13.670
3.6 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
This version will install on PCs running: Windows XP / 2003 / Vista / 7 / 8 /
MyDefragmenter
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Well recognized Ultradefrag engine. Excellent scheduler.
Not regularly updated.
http://www.mydefragmenter.com/
1.1
1.8 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 7, Vista, Windows XP

Running on x64 computer requires download and replace DLLs available at Mydefragmenter website
http://www.mydefragmenter.com/help/

Auslogics Disk Defrag
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Very fast at analyzing and performing a quick defragmentation.
Optimize function could be faster.
4.1.0.0
5 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Win 8 (32 or 64 bit), Win 7 (32 or 64 bit), Vista SP2 (32-bit only), XP SP3 (32-bit only)

 
Editor

This software review is copy-edited by Ian Richards. Please help edit and improve this article by clicking here.

 
Tags
defrag disk, defragment hard disk, disk defragmenter, free disk defrag software.

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Comments

by alease on 4. July 2014 - 21:43  (117147)

really need this to try to correct my computer

by MidnightCowboy on 5. July 2014 - 4:46  (117153)

Hi alease. If you have some issues with your computer please post the details here in our forum and someone will be able to assist you. MC - Site Manager.
http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/

by bobo8 on 5. June 2014 - 8:58  (116637)

MyDefrag doesn't defragment completely ("Monthly" script) and works VERY slowly. After 10 hours of defragmentig MyDefrag finishes (with many not defragmented files, this files aren't locked), then I run it again, then if runs 10 hours and result is the same. I have 1 TB not so much fragmented disk (and 25% free). I can't understand why is defragmenting so slow. If I would only copy the data to another disk, then I would have drefragmented disk in 5 hours :-|
And when you have MyDefrag screen saver and you want run MyDefrag manually, thne you have switch off its screen saver :-(

by ektorbarajas on 11. May 2014 - 5:19  (116152)

You should really consider again IObit's SmartDefrag, current version (3.1) has a lot of improvements vs previous version, it even has a new defrag engine and new algorithms to defrag, optimize and prioritize files!

I used to have PerfectDisk 13, but after installing and testing SD 3.1 I'm really impressed! My computer boots faster and is more responsive than when I had PerfectDisk 13.

The boot defrag works way better than other free and commercial software, and it's not obtrusive like PerfectDisk popup window and autorestart.

Indeed SD 3.1 should be the #1 defrag and optimizer for HDD among free and paid.

I'm a really satisfied user!

by BrollyLSSJ on 3. May 2014 - 17:23  (116015)

I would like to see a review of WinContig.

http://wincontig.mdtzone.it/en/

by skross on 8. February 2014 - 20:18  (114327)

Any thoughts on Iobit's SmartDefrag? It has been around for years and has boot defrag options. Please consider for review.

by MidnightCowboy on 9. February 2014 - 5:11  (114345)

This review currently has no editor so no new programs will be considered for inclusion until someone volunteers to take it over. MC - Site manager.

by mkg_just4u on 31. January 2014 - 0:16  (114090)

Please add Smart Defrag in this list (http://www.iobit.com/iobitsmartdefrag.html)

by windyctyprog on 17. August 2013 - 16:23  (110179)

I have a question about Defraggler...

I have been using Auslogics Disk Defrag for a number of years, but recently uninstalled it because the length of time to run "defrag and optimize" is now over 1.5 hours, when it could be accomplished in 20 minutes or less for years.

So, I tried Defraggler.

I must be incredibly stupid because I simply can't understand why Defraggler keeps telling me that it is going to take ">1 Day" to defrag.

Even quick defrag tell me that it's going to be 5 hours.

What am I doing wrong?

This morning after running the analysis again, there were 319 fragmented files, 603 MB, out of a 250 gig HD, with 65% free space.

I have yet to complete a defrag because this is completely illogical, it simply makes no intuitive sense, when I keep reading in various forums, including the Gizmo's forum, that it is so quick.

Can anyone please explain this before I uninstall this program?

I have been using 3rd. party defrags for a few years, but I am very flummoxed by recent behavior - I can't understand why all of a sudden these programs are now taking so long to get the job done.

Nothing, and I mean nothing has changed on my system from one update to another, no new software, not in a long time.

by Radelen on 3. October 2013 - 15:54  (111193)

I would suggest you a very simple solution, mate: Just stop bother with all these free defrags. From time to time run "Analyze" button of built-in Windows defrag utility and if it tells you: "Your file system performance is good, you don't need to defragment at this time" (or something like that) - just go and enjoy your computing and stop worrying about nothingness...

Sometimes the "fragmentation/defragmentation" issues is too much overrated - let's not make them more significant than actually they are...

by rmitch45 on 22. August 2013 - 0:00  (110249)

It sounds like you received some great advice that worked for you! This is an excellent community of users willing to help each other out. Reading the back and forth on this issue re-enforces my beliefs about the online freeware and open source community. You all are the best!

As far as sheer speed goes, UltraDefrag is very fast. Defraggler has continuous updates, product enhancements, and notifies you when your version is out of date. I've written scripts to run it at boot and defrag paging files. There are positives to each of them.

Last week, I uninstalled Auslogics from my personal laptop. My computer was slowing down, and I investigated. A simple Task Manager session on running processes sorted by memory use told me Auslogics was chewing up the largest portion of my memory. I can't say it would do that to anyone else, but that was my personal experience. An issue has to be consistent, predictable, and repeatable before I would say there is a flaw.

Thanks to everyone! rmitch45

by 4goTTen21 on 17. August 2013 - 16:45  (110181)

With mitch permission, I'll recommend you to make a disk check:

-Command prompt

chkdsk /f /r /b (could take a while)

I suspect a corrupted mft

by windyctyprog on 17. August 2013 - 17:22  (110183)

Are you recommending that I schedule Check Disk?

If so, I just ran it after I uninstalled Auslogics and installed Defraggler.

What is a corrupted mft?

What is mitch permission?

I'm sorry, but I simply don't understand the jargon.

It is not logical that, eventhough Auslogics' optimize and defrag times have increased, that Defraggler takes greater than a day to defrag.

If that's normal, than I'll look elsewhere.

by 4goTTen21 on 17. August 2013 - 20:28  (110186)

Sorry about poor explanation

A corrupted Master File Table could lead to slow information retrieve from disk so is slows down average read. Defrag use MFT to organize files.

You have two different defragmenters with different algorithm, so is normal it display different estimated time.

Yes. I recommend you to open an elevated command prompt and run a check disk

If you need more help how to do this, please ask.

rmitch is the former editor of this section, and I'm the older editor so, with his permission I'll take your question

by rmitch45 on 22. August 2013 - 0:12  (110250)

You provided an excellent and speedy response. You don't need my permission to come and play on the playground you built. I tried a number of products when I started as the editor. For the dozen and a half I tried, I couldn't find anything better than what you had already quantified. I'm sorry that MyDefrag is retiring support and advancement of their product, but it still does a great job.

Thanks again for the sound advice. I think others will find the information useful as well. I usually check in for questions every other day, but my job includes Disaster Recovery. I had an incident that kept me busy 18 hours a day for four days. Still tired from that. I wanted to give you my personal Thank You! for the foundation you built, and for providing prompt and valid advice to a reader in need.

Take care! -rmich45

by windyctyprog on 18. August 2013 - 13:41  (110193)

Thanks for the help...

Chkdsk ran all night, didn't find anything.

Everything is OK, which I knew it would be.

I had just run chkdsk a week or so ago when I uninstalled Auslogics - there was nothing then, nothing now.

Not sure where to next...I am still baffled why Defraggler was taking so long in either mode, quick or full on defrag.

by Anupam on 17. August 2013 - 17:35  (110184)

mitch is the editor of this category... rmitch45.

MFT is Master File Table: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_File_Table#Internals

He did not ask you to schedule a check disk. He gave you the command to run from command prompt in order to run check disk immediately. Command prompt can be started from Start Menu --> Run --> Type "cmd" and press Enter.

This will open the command prompt, where you can enter the command that he told in his post.

by 4goTTen21 on 17. August 2013 - 20:30  (110187)

Thanks Anup.
D@mn, guy, you still as fast as a thunder

by Anupam on 18. August 2013 - 15:07  (110194)

LOL. I try :D. It's good to see you around :).

by windyctyprog on 17. August 2013 - 18:53  (110185)

OK - will let you know what I find.

Thanks.

by batsdude on 12. August 2013 - 17:39  (110082)

"my defrag" totally screwed up my hard drive. I dl'd it and ran it one time. It made ALL my movies unusable, and to make matters worse I went from 8% fragmentation to 32% at completion! It took days to straighten out, and if I wanted to fragment my sys I couldn't of done a better job of screwing it up than this one did!

by rmitch45 on 15. August 2013 - 23:39  (110141)

I used it prior to switching to UltraDefrag. I never had an issue like that, but I have read a few horror stories with different defragmentation tools. I've even read about a couple from the built-in Microsoft Defragmentation tools.

Hindsight is 20/20, but the best thing to do is backup all of your important files. For me, that includes Music and my movie collection. Like a true geek, I love movies and have a re-purposed Desktop running XBMC, a NAS, and I stream my music and movies. Creating an image or "clone" of your hard drive is another backup method that allows the drive to be restored as it was at the time of the imaging process. Gizmo's has a page for this type of software: http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-drive-cloning-software.htm Anyone wanting some extra protection should definitely check this page out. I am a LAN manager by day, and I have a LUN (drive space) set aside for my desktop techs to store images from different machines. I create images of my test server before applying hot-fixes or patches for testing. It is a common practice for home users and professionals.

Again, I am sorry to hear what happened to your hard drive, but until the size increases and the price decreases, solid state drives will not be a viable substitute for defragmentation. To maintain efficiency on traditional drives, de-fragmenting the drive is the best practice for reversing the chronic degradation of drive performance. For the state agency I work for, I am required to "defrag" my drives quarterly. Within the agency, 2 of the tools listed on this page are widely used: Defraggler and UltraDefrag.

Thanks for sharing your stories, leaving comments, and reading mine! Take care!
-rmitch45 a.k.a. Robert

by rmitch45 on 16. August 2013 - 0:04  (110142)

I have a comment I want to add to the repeat "seminar writer", to borrow a phrase used in talk radio. This means that I repeatedly receive a very similar post, under the guise of a normal reader who wants to share, but the post comes from someone from a particular company trying to advertise a specific software. The posts always involve O & O, and how wonderful it is. I have tried O&O, it works, but if it were one of my favorites, it would be in the top 5. I hope that ends the repeat messages. Thanks everyone!
-rmitch45 (Robert)

by 4goTTen21 on 22. June 2013 - 7:57  (108657)

I'm sorry but Disktune will no longer be available. A second release was planned but Joep (the man behind Disktune) in that time told me "So, yes, I do have plans for the tool, just need to find the time" but that was in October 2012. It's sads news for everyone. Anyway, thanks Joep end thanks Disktune for such great piece of software.

by rmitch45 on 18. July 2013 - 23:30  (109393)

Thanks for the update. I will keep my fingers crossed that he finds the time to create a newer version. It has been a long lived, solid, and effective tool.

by rmitch45 on 29. June 2013 - 1:45  (108796)

I appreciate the extra information and an independent verification of what I read. Perhaps down the road, we will see a new release. DiskTune was heavily downloaded and used by many people around the world. Independent testing and use verified that DiskTune is one of the best de-fragmentation tools out there. It was in the top 5 when I was offered the opportunity to serve as the editor for this page. My testing and use of the product convinced me to leave it right it was. I still have it running on several family members computers. It is sad, and I don't really know if there is another product out there worthy of moving into the list. I will look around and test some more to see. Thanks to all of you for sharing information, confirming information, and using the products we feature here! Take care and have a great weekend.

Most Sincerely,
Your De-Fragmentation Editor
rmitch45 (Robert)

by mrfingerz on 21. June 2013 - 5:20  (108635)

I think DiskTune may now be discontinued. It doesn't seem to be listed on their site and the link to it above doesn't work btw.

by rmitch45 on 22. June 2013 - 4:00  (108655)

There are going to be many sad users of DiskTune. In a reply to a consumer on June 3rd, 2013, one of the company's developers verified that DiskTune is "discontinued for the time being". I have not been able to find any details on why the product is no longer available. If anyone happens upon an explanation, please share it with me. I am extremely curious why such a popular product has been abruptly discontinued. Thank you again mrfingerz. I have confirmed your assumption and will submit a site change to my peers without DiskTune included.

Take care,
Robert (rmitch45)

by rmitch45 on 22. June 2013 - 3:32  (108654)

I thank you again. The creators of the product are still and around. New hard disk software is available, but the focus is hard disk repair for file recovery and forensics. As I stated earlier, the Softpedia link is still good. It looks like support and quite possibly development of DIY Data Recovery is being discontinued. I would advise all readers to use one of the other products until I can identify the best replacement for the product.

I will do some more research on the possibility of a future release, but I expect after I can confirm the de-fragmentation tool will no longer be supported, I will remove it from the top five. I will look at my test data and do additional testing to see if another product is solid enough for the list. My favorite, UltraDefrag, is still available, supported, and updated regularly.

Sincerely,
Robert (rmitch45)

by rmitch45 on 22. June 2013 - 3:10  (108653)

Thank you very much. I will check to see if the website is temporarily down or possibly migrated or abandoned. If you want to give it a try, the Softpedia link still offers you access to download the latest version.
I have spent a lot of time the last couple of weeks installing an Intrusion Detection/Protection System at work. It has made me think about what most malicious hackers are after, information. In particular, the crooks are looking for PII (personally identifiable information). With Smart Phones, tablets, pads, laptops, and Ultra Books saturating the market, security is not just a business concern anymore. It should be a personal concern. This wonderful site is a large library of articles and products you can use to protect your personal information.
I first learned the word "Hardening" in a Comp-TIA Security + class. It is simply the act of taking actions to correct security vulnerabilities and minimizing the possibility of a breach. All Web Browsers have vulnerabilities. Start your personal security training by reading Chiron's article How to Harden Your Browser Against Malware and Privacy Concerns. This is only one of many great security resources available on this site. Here is URL for your convenience:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/how-harden-your-browser-against-... This is a sound start to protecting yourself. Please check out the free VPN services on this site as well. In any public location, browsing the web is a lot safer when your information is encrypted and bounced around through Servers all over the world.
Everyone take care and have a safe, enjoyable weekend!

Sincerely,
Robert (rmitch45)

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