So this will be the first of a series of software reviews. I’m going to start with freeware because really, what’s better than free? Besides, I use almost nothing but freeware so I consider myself somewhat of an authority on the subject. Hope you’ll agree…
I recently reformatted my computer and reinstalled a clean Windows XP. Once I installed all of the essentials I realized I hadn’t installed a defragmenting program, and that my friends is unacceptable. Why? Read on.
First though… what is fragmentation?
Well, sometimes when you install a program or create a data file, the file ends up chopped up into chunks and stored in multiple locations on the disk. This is called fragmentation.
What makes this happen?
When you first install your operating system and programs on your hard disk, they are written to the disk, for the most part, in one contiguous block without any gaps. The exceptions are certain system files that must be stored in specific locations. Over time, as you create and then delete documents or uninstall programs, once-filled locations are left empty and you end up with files dotted all over the disk.
Now, when Windows is writing a file to the disk, it looks for a suitable piece of free space in which to store it. What happens, then, when you copy a 40MB database or audio file to the disk and the biggest slice of free space is only 30MB? Or say you modify an existing file, appending a whole bunch of data so the file now takes up more space on the disk. To accommodate the files, Windows writes the first part of the file in one section of the disk and then scouts around for other places to store the rest of the file. The end result is that a single file may be stored in several chunks scattered about the disk.
And, according to Wikipedia, defragmentation is a process that reduces the amount of fragmentation in file systems. It does this by physically reorganizing the contents of the disk to store the pieces of each file close together and contiguously. It also attempts to create larger regions of free space using compaction to impede the return of fragmentation. Some defragmenters also try to keep smaller files within a single directory together, as they are often accessed in sequence. According to a survey, 42% of PC users fail to defrag their system regularly, adversely affecting system performance.
So hopefully after this post you’ll not be part of that 42% because you’ll have freeware ways to defrag your system.
I recently ran across an article called The Great Defrag Shootout
which helped open my eyes to some free and payware defragmenting applications.
I’m going to jump right to the winner of that set of articles, or at least the freeware winner.
The winner was JkDefrag
, or rather, it’s GUI version. But it wasn’t just JKDefrag that Mr. Edwards found did the trick. It was a suite of free defragmenting utilities that include JKDefrag 3.26, NTREGOPT, PageDefrag, JKDefrag GUI, and Contig.
I’ll have to say that after year’s of first using Windows built in defragmenter, and then converting to Diskeeper Professional edition, this suite of freeware applications is not only the best bang for your buck (especially since you spend nothing) but it’s the best combination of utilities to help keep your computer running at optimal condition.
If you’d like to read more about the contenders of The Great Defrag Shootout and see how your defragmenter of choice ended up have a gander at Donn Edwards Insights and Rants
As per my recommendation… I’ve been a faithful pay-for-defragmenter (;P) user for year’s but I have jumped ship to the one-way boat to freeware land, and this suite of applications together, I’ve found, have kept my computer at tip-top shape and defragged computers who hadn’t been defragged in over a year. I recommend downloading and trying this suite out. The best thing about JKDefrag is that you can set it to run while your screensaver is running, that way whenever your computer is idle it will defrag your computer.
You can download all of the applications in one easy to use setup program here
. Be aware though that there is a new version of JKDefrag. Version 3.28, which Mr. Edwards has addressed here
(but I haven’t upgraded yet so you’re on your own there).
Remember, you should definitely defrag your computer, why you ask? Read here