The best defragmenter for Windows NT, 2000, XP and Vista

Want Diskeeper’s features without ponying up 50 bucks?

Sorry, I can’t help you. The combination of My Defrag, Scandefrag, and Pagedefrag is better and it’s free.

Scandefrag defragments your system during the boot process, as early as it can. It works better on NT-based systems like Windows 2000 and XP than it does on 98 or ME. All it does is launch the other tools.

Pagedefrag is, of course, a classic. It’s just convenient to bundle it up with these other tools. This tool defragments your registry and swap file(s) at boot time, which is the only time the system allows it.

My Defrag (actually Jerrod Kessels’ defrag) is, to put it simply, the best general purpose defragmenter for Windows NT, 2000 and XP that I’ve ever seen. Period.

If My Defrag can’t do an ideal job, it does the best it can do. Some defragmenters leave a file alone if they can’t defragment it, but this one will defragment as much as possible and move it as close to the front of the disk as possible, where performance is much better. On full disks, this is important. Since ideal conditions almost never exist (except when a system is first built), a defragmenter’s performance under less than ideal conditions is very important.

The most exciting thing about My Defrag is its ability to sort files. I like Sort alphabetically.

Sorting alphabetically (the -a7 switch) helps because it uses the full pathname. This means all of your files that are part of, say, Mozilla Firefox will be put as close together on the disk as possible, so when you launch Firefox, all of those files are close together and the disk head doesn’t have to move around a lot. The result is an application that launches faster.

So how often should you defragment? Once a year, I would do a boot-time defragmentation with Scandefrag to whip the Registry and swap files into shape. When that finishes, I would run My Defrag in full optimization mode, with file sorting. If you make a major change to your system (say, upgrading your office suite), do a quick defragmentation after the install and a full defragmentation a month or so after.

As part of your routine system maintenance, a faster, automatic defrag with no options specified is a good idea on occasion. The author says to do it no more than once a day and I agree. In my experience, once a week or even once a month is almost always fine. The way My Defrag works, the system shouldn’t get terribly fragmented on a daily basis, even if you use your system heavily. Defragmenting too frequently can shorten a hard disk’s life expectancy, although the occasional defragmentation seems to help it. I defragment a few times a year (and always have), and I generally get five or six years out of a hard disk, which is a year or two longer than most experts say to expect.

Don’t waste your money on any other tools. Download this trio, install it, use it, and watch your system performance climb.

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