While there are always those who will dispute the need for disk defragmentation, anyone who gets the full explanation of how operating systems work with files knows that some sort of defragmentation will always be necessary (assuming we don’t all move to solid state drives).

For the Windows operating systems, fragmentation happens very quickly.  It is something that happens without user intervention; it only takes a machine being left on for the system to chug out some files that get sprayed all over the drive.

Back in the ‘olden days’ there were a couple of disk defragmenting programs widely used on Microsoft operating systems. One was a Peter Norton product, part of the Norton Utilities. The other was part of Central Point Software’s PC Tools set of utilities (This is not the PC Tools of today, the company I refer to was based in Oregon, and was purchased by that swallower of many good companies, Symantec.)

Both of these utilities would allow specific arrangement of the files on the drive, including the way the directory structures would get arranged. It might take a while to defragment the drive, but such control was available that performance was changed for the better very easily.

After those programs went away, obliterated by the people at Symantec who cared little about computers other than how they could tally up revenues quickly, the Windows computer user was left with the choice of Executive Software’s Diskeeper, or a relatively unknown shareware solution, of dubious efficacy.

For a few iterations, Diskeeper worked well; then somewhere along the way, the folks at Executive decided that, with hard drives getting larger, well beyond what anyone had really anticipated, using those old routines to really defrag the entire drive would take too much time, and be perceived by many as unnecessary, because drives, as well as computers, were now much faster. So the defrag routines were cut back, allowing fewer tweaks, and doing less complete defragmentation than previously available. But it was faster!

Diskeeper kept getting more and more bloated, and people were ‘treated’ to a new version, with ‘significantly more advanced’ features, about once a year. (When you only have a couple of products, and you need to increase market penetration, you tend to get really inventive with your ad copy.) Soon, Diskeeper would do full time defragmentation, presumably making a full defragmentation never necessary.

It was a nice idea, but did not really work. Today, we have a Diskeeper that costs at least half of what most people pay for Windows, and it does less and less than ever before. But it looks great doing it!

Now, Auslogics is a company that seems to want to put Executive Software out of its misery, and give us something resembling what Diskeeper used to be, at no cost.

The latest revision of their program will defragment files, defrag the disk to a large degree, and can also be set up to defrag the drives, on schedule, and also to choose which drives will be touched, and which are left alone. Most people who have more than one drive assignment will note that most of the fragmentation occurs on the boot drive, where Windows does most of its housekeeping.

The latest Auslogics Disk Defragmenter will also allow the ‘full time defragmentation’ that many users of Diskeeper are used to, and also can empty the trash before doing the work. A very nice graphical display is available, and can be modified to suit the user’s tastes.

Some will say that this program has had problems with defragmentation of very large files on a volume in the past, and they are right. That problem seems, with this implementation, to be mostly fixed. Those who would say that this will not fully defragment a drive, the way that the old Norton or Central Point models did, would be right; but also, what program currently available does?  There is one available from a company called Raxco, but I have little experience with it, so I can’t say. I do wonder why, if it is a product of such quality, why it has not jumped to the front of the class, so to speak.

No, there are many programs that claim to do many things with the files on your disk. Many of them don’t really do much, and that is why there are those who say that using a defragmenter is a waste of time. Diskeeper is a good program, but simply not worth the money that Executive Software asks for it these days.

Auslogics does most of what the high priced spread does, and does it at a great price. Free! Give it a try.

Latest revision is, released just a few days ago. I installed it on my laptop (a 4 year old Toshiba, just rejuvenated with a 70GB hard drive) and it seems to be doing a marvelous job, through startups, shutdowns, major and minor software installations, and through hibernation cycles. It’s solid and easily set up. Highly recommended.


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