Date: February 10, 2006
Author(s): Matthew Harris
Diskeeper is back with their top notch Defragmentation software. The new version takes a lot of features that have helped make the software so great, and made them even better. You now will even have the capability of defragging computers on your network. Let’s take a look at the latest version and see if it’s worth your hard earned money.
Today I’m taking a look at Diskeeper 10 Professional Premier. For those of you who are not familiar with Diskeeper, it is one of the finest defragmenting utilities on the market today. In fact Windows XP uses a stripped down version of Diskeeper 6 as it’s default defragmenting tool. Even though you already have a bare bones version of DK on your PC if you run XP don’t be fooled into thinking that you won’t benefit by moving up to the full version of the newest revision out today.
I’ll let the features do the talking:
Diskeeper is the only defragmenter truly designed for the network. Keeping your servers automatically defragmented to maintain peak performance and reliability has never been easier. Just install Diskeeper simply and easily either locally or using Diskeeper Administrator Edition, Group Policy or systems management tools (such as Sitekeeper) and Set It and Forget It. Diskeeper will keep every server on your network defragmented automatically and in the background. With over 18 million licenses sold, Diskeeper is the number one automatic defragmenter for your servers.
And for those of you of a more technical mindset here’s what it brings to the table:
The disk space requirements for Diskeeper depend on several factors. On Windows Server 2003, Windows XP and Windows 2000 systems, Diskeeper will need about 11 MB. Allow about 10 MB of extra free space for temporary files during the installation. If Internet Explorer is not present on your computer, some other needed files (hhupd.exe, 50comupd.exe, and wintdist.exe) may be added. Further, your system may require a new or updated version of the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), which is less than 6 MB.
Additional software requirements
On Windows NT 4.0 computers, Service Pack 6 is required for Diskeeper to function properly. Diskeeper will not install on Windows NT systems running Service Pack 5 or lower. Diskeeper relies on the Microsoft Management Console (MMC). The MMC provides a single point of control for system utilities such as Diskeeper. The MMC is used as a central location for a variety of Microsoft and third party administrative tools.
The MMC normally has to be installed separately, except on Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 systems, where it is already built into the operating system. The Diskeeper setup process will automatically install the MMC on your computer if needed.
A Note About Firewalls
As a normal part of its operation, the Diskeeper Service (DkService.exe) acts as a server on your system. If you are running a hardware or software firewall, you may see messages indicating Diskeeper Service is trying to act as a server. These messages are expected; you can safely allow these events. This functionality is designed to allow for support for network operations (e.g. Remote Control) via Diskeeper Administrator. You may also be notified that Diskeeper is trying to access the Internet. It is important to note that Diskeeper does not access the Internet (except when you specifically use the Check for Updates feature), but it does use Windows mechanisms that may trigger these alerts from your firewall. Again, these messages are expected and you can safely allow the events. If networkability or automatic update checking is not required, you can safely disable this.
What all this boils down to is this: Diskeeper 10 Pro Premier will allow you run scheduled defragmentation of local and networked drives, run boot time defrags of local drives and defragment huge volumes with ease. It will allow up to 8 simultaneous defragmentation jobs to run at once (while this is great for multiple disk systems you would be better served to que partitions on a single disk) and it offers some very advanced defragmentation methods such as I-FAAST and large file optimization.
When you first open Diskeeper you’re greeted a blank volume map with the default map view set to file performance. The performance map view differs from the file structure map view in that it doesn’t show you the different types of files and the folder structure. Instead it shows your files and folders as one of three basic types, high performing files and folders, low performing files and folders and low performing system files. This is nice as it clears up any confusion about whether your folder structure is mucking up your disk performance. As you can see in the second and third screenshots, although my folders are a bit spread around the disk there is no performance hit from this.
After you’ve analyzed the disk, clicking the job report tab will show you the approximate amount of time you’ll save accessing the files on your drive and your drive in its entirety. As you can see from my example the time to read the fragmented files on my HDD would improve by nearly 90 seconds and the time to read all files will pick up close to a 2.5 minute improvement. Where will this help? Well, since most of the files on your HDD that are getting this badly fragmented are the browser cache you’ll see an improvement when you surf the web since your drive won’t spend as much time doing seeking when you’re going from one page to the next and if you do a lot of digital media work then you’ll be putting those files in order which will really help in speeding up those tasks. Also after installing games, app’s or doing windows updates you’ll see improvements in the performance of your system by doing a good defrag by putting all the new files on the disk in such a way that they are optimized for reading.
Clicking the left Analyze and Defragment button opens up the menu for manual defragmentation (on a side note, you can analyze and defragment a drive by simply right clicking it in the top pane and choosing the appropriate choice). The button choices are what you’d expect to find, Analyze, Defragment, Pause and Stop. The Historical Report tab will show you the history of your defragmentation and fragmentation in a simple line graph dating from the day you install the software to the current date. This is pretty handy for keeping tabs on how many fragments you eliminate and the trend of fragmentation on your drives.
During manual defragmenting you can see the files being moved and their progress by looking at the bottom of the window below the map. If you’ve got multiple drives you can select one of them and start a job on it to get everything out of the way at once to help maximize your time.
One thing I’d like to say about Diskeeper 10 versus the default Windows defraging tool or even Diskeeper 8 for that matter, during defragmentation you’ll normally see your PC becoming sluggish and stop responding or respond slowly. With Diskeeper 10 this is a thing of the past. During defragmentation my PC responded completely normally and it’s completely transparent to the user. Other than the tray icon and taskbar icon once you’ve minimized the window you’ve got no clue that anything is happening. Another nicety is an option called Disk Priority (I’ll illustrate this in a minute in the options part of the review) that allows you to have Diskeeper pause defragmenting at any time that the disk usage by the user would interfere with PC performance. This means that you can surf the web and download files or transfer files from one drive to your HDD or even install a program during defragmentation and still have no clue that anything’s running in the background.
After defragmentation is over a quick look at the map shows if any trouble spots remain. Overall mine looks OK with just 4 non-optimized system files. Glancing at the other tabs reveals how well the defragmentation has helped my system’s performance and how this fits in historically. If you’ve got bad fragmentation of the system files you can run the boot time defragmenter which leads me into the next section of the review:
Hitting the Set It and Forget It button opens up the automated defrag job properties pane. These jobs are the Primary and Secondary jobs, the IFAAST job and the Boot-Time job.The primary and secondary jobs allow you to set 2 different jobs. For example, you can set your PC to defrag whenever your screensaver runs as your primary job and as your secondary job set it to run on a specific date and time or weekly or daily thus ensuring that if for some reason your screensaver never has a chance to run your PC will still be getting defragged.
You can set different methods between the Primary and Secondary jobs, for the primary job you can set it to use quick defragmentation and on the secondary set it to recommended or comprehensive (yes I know that it’s greyed out in that screenshot but that’s for manual where it’s unavailable. For Set It and Forget It jobs it is available) and keep your disk at peak performance. I’d like to back peddle here a bit and explain a bit about the manual options. I know I never covered the preferences for manual defragmentation but that was simply to avoid redundant writing since they are shared between manual, Primary and Secondary.
The other properties are Disk Priority and CPU Priority which allow you to set how hard the job will hit your system. If you choose a time that the job will run while you are using the PC then choosing Disk Priority and lower CPU priority will allow you to load the system down without any kind of odd issues showing up although I tend to leave it at "normal" on the CPU setting and I don’t have any issues. For a slower system like a small Athlon or a PIII, lowering the CPU Priority may not be a bad idea. The Disk Priority setting is a very cool option and I keep it toggled so that I can hit the HDD hard and not experience slowdowns and you can definitely feel the difference.
I’d like to cover the Large File Defragmentation here, if you have large files that are spread out on the drive rather than try to wedge them into the file structure this setting will allow them to be more efficiently fit on the drive. This allows for a faster defragmentation but you’ll end up with gaps of free space between files. I’m rather anal about my drive structure so I choose to go with the longer route so I leave it unchecked but if you’re after a good quick defrag it is a nice option. Another thing worth mentioning is that these options are not global, they are available per drive so you can set each drive to have its own settings.
The job Schedule for Primary, Secondary and IFAAST are all basically the same. You have to tie IFAAST in with either a Primary or Secondary job, be forewarned though, IFAAST is a very detailed defrag and requires a lot of time. It will net you a good performance boost so it is worth it but you’d be best to set it run at such a time as you’re not using your PC or else you’ll be defeating the purpose of running it. As a result I haven’t used it since there is never a time in the day that I’m not using my PC for some period of time out of every day. For working Joes, though, setting it to run weekly on payday (since you’ll most likely be gone longer on payday) wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Boot-Time defrag allows you to set a schedule for defraging your drive during the boot process. This allows such things as defraging the MFT, the Page File and putting all the folders together in one contiguous section on the drive which can’t be done while Windows is up and running fully. Boot-Time defraging loads only the bare minimum so that nothing else is being used and can be moved. It runs in the same mode as chkdsk so it’s very basic as to what is running at the time. If you have any reason to believe that you might have errors on the drive you can choose to run chkdsk before running the defrag to make certain you’re not going to further compound your troubles by moving info into a bad sector.
Diskeeper 10 Professional Premier is one very nice piece of software. It does quite a bit more than the novice PC user will ever need so if you fall into that category look to either the Pro or Home version but if you’re a "Hardcore PC Abuser" or "Power User" this piece of software is for you. Yes it does things that some of us won’t ever do such as defraging networked drives but it also allows you to wring every last bit of performance out of your drive sub-system and for many of us that’s paramount because in the greater scheme of things the drive sub-system is the biggest bottleneck in the PC. With memory capable of passing 2000-8000+MB/s and CPUs capable of billions of instructions per second our PCs are often waiting on the HDD to cough up the data needed to do the work we want done. Anything that can give you a drop in the time needed to get that data into use is a worthy investment to say the least.
Diskeeper 10 Pro Premier is also very user friendly, it offers a very nicely done guided method and a easy right click and shoot method for more advanced users. It also has a very slick UI that blends nicely with MCE 2005 which I’ve dabbled with a bit and I think is one of the sweetest looking versions of Windows to date. All in all I’m very impressed with Diskeeper Professional Premier and I think anyone that gives it a whirl will be just as impressed as I am. The beauty part is you can give it a shot for free from Diskeeper’s website. Go give it a shot and you’ll see why I’m giving it a perfect 10 out of 10 and awarding it our coveted Editor’s Choice Award!
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