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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:
Yellow: Temporary written internet files
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:
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:
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:
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:
Well, it's time for action now and let me introduce you to the de-fragmenters.
UltraDefrag 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.
MyDefrag, 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:
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”.
Piriform'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.
MyDefragmenter, 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 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:
-O&O defrag free edition
Feel free to suggest any software not already mentioned for review.
Auslogics Disk Defrag
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