Not only does Diskeeper's software attempt to prevent fragmentation from ever occurring, but it cuts power consumption and unnecessary I/O operations.
In the life of a Windows machine, nothing is
certain but malware sweeps and disk defragmentation. Both chores are deployed
regularly in hopes of holding off bit rot, and each has a knack for sucking up
resources and generally getting in everyone's way-despite ongoing vendor
efforts to tuck these tasks into the background.
I suspect that anti-malware efforts will
always be messy-at least until application whitelisting tactics like the ones
that Andrew Garcia discusses here
become more broadly accepted. However, there may be new hope on the disk
fragmentation front, in the form of Diskeeper's Diskeeper 2010 software.
Diskeeper, the company responsible for the
disk defrag tool that ships along with Windows, is out to attack disk
fragmentation by preventing it from occurring in the first place. Diskeeper
2010 ships with a new feature called IntelliWrite that works by intercepting
disk writes and carrying them out with a focus on keeping files contiguous.
By keeping fragmentation to a minimum-the company claims that up 85 percent of fragmentation
can be avoided-Diskeeper 2010 promises to cut power consumption, disk wear and
redundant I/O operations. Cutting down on unnecessary I/O can be particularly
beneficial when dealing with virtual machines situated on shared storage, or
with systems running on solid-state drives, with their inherent write-cycle limitations.
This all depends, of course, on how regularly IT administrators conduct disk
defragmentation jobs on the Windows desktops and servers under their care.
Opinions on the exact performance implications of disk fragmentation fall all
over the map, and much depends on a company's particular environment. Few deny,
however, that disk fragmentation catches up with all Windows machines eventually.
With that said, IT administrators who turn frequently to disk defragmentation tools should have a look at
Diskeeper 2010, which is available in 30-day trial versions for each of its editions:
Professional, Pro Premier, Server, EnterpriseServer and Administrator. For a
breakdown of each of these versions and their prices, check out this comparison
For this review, I tested the Pro Premier with HyperFast edition, which sells
for $99.95. The least costly edition, Professional, sells for $59.95 per seat. All editions include the
IntelliWrite feature. I conducted most of my Diskeeper 2010 tests on Windows XP
SP3 virtual machines with NTFS-formatted drives running under the VMware
vSphere 4 setup in our lab.
2010's IntelliWrite feature works by inserting itself between Windows and
users' write operations, I was interested in figuring out how much overhead
Diskeeper added in this new, more active role. I measured the overheard by
running the suite of hard drive benchmarks from Futuremark's PCMark05 both with
and without IntelliWrite enabled. Over multiple runs, I found that the overhead
introduced by IntelliWrite hovered around an acceptable 2 percent.
I was also
interested in measuring the amount of fragmentation prevention that IntelliWrite
would buy me. After casting around for a repeatable means of fragmenting my
test disk, I settled on extracting all the files and folders from a Windows XP ISO
image onto a defragmented test drive. I then recorded the number of low-performing fragments as
reported by Diskeeper, deleted the extracted files and manually defragmented the disk. Over multiple
runs, with IntelliWrite enabled and disabled, I found that my disk ended up
with 87 percent fewer low-performing fragments on the IntelliWrite runs.
fragmentation that remained following my IntelliWrite-enabled runs, a feature
introduced in an earlier version of Diskeeper, InvisiTasking, was ready to
sweep in and finish the job. InvisiTasking monitors the utilization of the
machine on which Diskeeper is installed, and jumps in to defragment files when
the system is idle. I had automatic defragmentation turned off for most of my
IntelliWrite test runs, but when I ran the two in tandem I found that what fragmentation IntelliWrite
left behind was dealt with by InvisiTasking within 5 minutes.
graphical interface for Diskeeper 2010 sports a status dashboard that's packed
with information about disk status, about which resources are available for use
by InvisiTasking and about the rate at which IntelliWrite is avoiding disk
fragmentation. In fact, I found the interface a bit too packed with information-all
of the information on the dashboard is arranged on a single page, and I had to
do a lot of scrolling to find the information I was after. The dashboard page
contains links for jumping to different sections, but I'd rather see the whole
thing exploded out into something like a navigation tree. I found
the properties dialogs for my individual disks easier to navigate, and
appreciated its options for scheduling when to enable or disable
As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. Jason's coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at email@example.com.