Ask a PC specialist or technician on how to make your slow, usually old computer to run faster again and they will advice you a common thing – defrag. Though defragmentation is not the only solution to the problem, fragmentation is a common problem to almost every slow computer. That’s why we see dozens of defragmenters offering solution, some were free, some you need to pay to be able to use its full capabilities. For this article, we will examine some of the most popular free disk defragmenter to help you find which defragmenter is the best.
What is file fragmentation and defragmentation?
Let say you have a new computer. When you install and/or copy files to your hard drive, files and file fragments are copied and written next to each other (Figure 1). This is because there is plenty of free space.
Then you begin uninstalling and/or deleting files. Your hard drive now looks like this (Figure 2). There are now free spaces between files.
And then you install new applications, or copy plenty of files, or edit a couple of videos. The new file will be copied on free space in-between, and if the free space is not enough, it will look for another free space to write the remaining part of the file, thus making the file fragmented (Figure 3).
If the file is fragmented, when you access the file, the hard drive will look on another sector of your drive to find the remaining pieces of the particular file, making it slower and took a while load and open. Otherwise if the file is not fragmented, the hard drive will not have to look somewhere else to find the remaining pieces of the file, making it faster to load and open the file.
Defragging/defragmenting is a process of putting together file fragments to speed up file access. That’s what disk defragmenter tool do. Other disk defragmenter also consolidate free space to avoid fragmentation of new files and put the most frequently accessed file to the fastest accessible part of the hard drive, usually the boot files (Figure 4).
Processor – Intel Celeron G550 2.6 GHz Dual-core
Memory – Geil 2GB DDR3-1600
Hard drive – Seagate 500GB hard disk, 55 GB System Drive
Video Card – nVidia GeForce 9600GT 512MB DDR3, Forceware 306.97
– The 55 GB System Drive serves also as our test drive. All the applications and files used for testing are all in this drive.
Operating System – Microsoft Windows 7 x64 with Service Pack 1
- Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.6.0
- Defraggler 2.12.628
- MyDefrag 4.3.1
- O&O Defrag Free Edition 14.1.431
- Puran Defrag 7.5
- Smart Defrag 2.6
- Ultra Defrag 5.1.1
- Windows Disk Defragmenter
The following is the sequence we followed to do the tests for each disk defragmenter.
- Install all the necessary software, drivers, and all the disk defragmenter tools.
- Copy all the files that will be use for testing and running the benchmark.
- Create a disk image of the system drive.
- Do all the tests. This serves as our “Before” defragmenting results.
- Restore the image file of the system drive.
- Defrag using the Disk Defragmenter #N.
- Do all the tests. This serves as “Disk Defragmenter #N” results.
- Rerun step 5-8 using the next disk defragmenter.
– We assigned points for each disk defragmenter to determine the best and worst performer for each test. We give 8 points for the best and deduct 1 point for each succeeding defragmenter. In case of tie, all the tied defragmenter will have the same point.
– We included the “Before” defragmenting on the ranking, which means “Before” will also get points.
– We rounded down the decimals of time in seconds. 5.6s and 5.1s are both 5s. In real time, you will not really feel the difference of 0.5s, 0.8s, even 0.1s so we decided to round down the decimals.
– Aside from the defragmenting, we also used the optimization feature of the defragmenter, if available.
– All time related tests were measured using a stopwatch.
Tests and Results
We used defraggler to determine the disk status on “Before” and after defragging.
|Fragmented Files||Total Fragments||Fragmentation %||Free Space|
|Before||2781 (7.3GB)||26528||15||6.6 GB|
|Windows Disk Defragmenter||68 (1.6G)||646||2||7.3 GB|
|UltraDefrag||46 (2.7GB)||258||4||7.3 GB|
|Smart Defrag 2||56 (1.5GB)||1603||3||7.3 GB|
|Puran Defrag||59 (144 MB)||316||0||7.45 GB|
|O&O Defrag Free||41 (36.5 MB)||293||0||7.4 GB|
|MyDefrag||39 (33 MB)||131||0||7.4 GB|
|Defraggler||40 (32.5)||303||0||7.3 GB|
|Auslogics Disk Defrag||47 (37.8 MB)||189||0||7.3 GB|
Each defragmenter reduced the fragmented files and size, the total fragments, and the percentage of fragmentation. But we found out that the number of fragmented files, the total fragments, and its percentage are not always relative to each other. Having lesser fragmented files doesn’t necessarily mean that you will also get to have lesser fragments and lesser percentage. Take a look at UltraDefrag and Smart Defrag for example. UltraDefrag has lesser fragmented files and yet bigger fragmented file size. It also has lesser total fragments and yet higher percentage of file fragmentation. We also found out that you can also save additional free space after defragging. To be honest, I only found this out after doing the tests.
We didn’t include these results in our scoring because we are after for the actual results and benefits.
Boot-up and Shut down
We used BootTimer to measure the boot-up time and a stopwatch for the shut down.
Defragging won’t guarantee faster boot-up. Here, O&O Defrag improve the boot-up time by 9 seconds, but Auslogics, MyDefrag, and UltraDefrag took longer boot-up time than before defragging. But every defragmenter took shorter time on shutdown compared to before defragging.
Defraggler’s built-in benchmark tool guarantee us that defragging will improve disk’s random read speed, but CrytalDiskMark didn’t. Some defragmenter improved the random read speed, but worsen the sequential write.
Defraggler gets ahead of the rest of the defragmenters followed by Auslogics Disk Defrag. MyDefrag, UltraDefrag, Smart Defrag gets lower points than before defragging, but the difference were small and it is almost negligible.