Boot-Time Solutions Beg the Question

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2002-07-22 Print this article Print

Until I can get an uptime-all-the-time operating system, I'll be using paired disks.

Ive heard from dozens of readers in response to my July 1 column, describing my search for a complete disk defragmentation solution for my Windows NT and Windows 2000 machines. Executive Software Internationals DiskKeeper ( was most often mentioned, with its boot-time options to deal with problems on startup that cant be addressed once the operating system is fully awake.

Self-interested or not, Executive Software has commissioned startling research on the effects of fragmentation on application performance. Theyre not pretty. (You can get the whole story via

Also praised by its users was the less well-known, but perhaps even more capable, PerfectDisk 2000 from Raxco Software (, whose claims include more complete treatment of FAT partitions than DiskKeeper provides. But there are new releases all the time, so time-of-purchase investigation is always a good idea. Ive seen DiskKeeper but havent adopted it for personal use; PerfectDisk 2000 is new to me, and I hope to have observations to share soon.

If I dont seem delighted to be told about not one, but two, products that do what Symantecs knowledge base suggested was no longer possible, its because the promise of boot-time defragmentation makes me wonder, "Why would I want to reboot?" I dont want to reboot, ever. I want my systems up and running, 24-by-7, so I can check a fact or receive e-mail or process a digital photo as the need arises. I hardly need add that servers should certainly be running around the clock, without interruption for any normal (or even most abnormal) maintenance.

Ive seen enough operating systems with dynamic loading and unloading facilities to believe that any normal operation that requires a reboot should be barred from any future operating system design. But until I can get an uptime-all-the-time operating system, Ill be using paired disks in the same way that the original LISP machines used memory: When half my storage gets full or otherwise degrades, Ill copy what I want to the other half and wipe the first half down to bare metal.

And Ill do it on my schedule, not at the convenience of something that wants to take control of my machine while Id rather be working.

Tell me how you keep them running at

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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