Product Review: Diskeeper relieves NT disk defragmentation

Many current Windows NT defragmentation utilities do not do a complete job, and the problem is this: One of NT's biggest performance obstacles is excessive paging, and when the paging file is fragmented, the hit to performance is severe. Because this file is off-limits while NT is running, current defragmentation utilities cannot access it. But Executive Software offers a solution to this dilemma with Diskeeper 4.0 for Windows NT, which can interrupt the NT boot process to work on the paging file and consolidate directories.

Diskeeper is more thorough and easier to use than its closest competitor, Symantec's Speed Disk, and its network-scheduling capabilities make it the appropriate choice for corporate environments. But the utility has some weaknesses that can limit its effectiveness on enterprise scale servers. For example, the defragmentation process during a boot is slow, and should only be run when you can devote considerable time to the process.

With Diskeeper I could select multiple drives in a system for concurrent defragmentation. Priority of the defragmentation process is adjustable, so I could have some systems run a quick, intensive job and set others to a lower priority while continuing to do other work on the system as the defragmentation ran. And Diskeeper offered me detailed analysis and defragmentation summaries, so I was always aware of exactly what it was doing.

Diskeeper deserves kudos for its simple installation and capability to run immediately without having to reboot NT. Downtime on servers is hard to come by in many shops, and it was nice to add and use software without rebooting.

One disadvantage of Diskeeper is that its network scheduling is basically point-to-point. I could only see schedules from the sending and receiving systems. Large networks would better benefit from a centralised scheduler in which all network jobs can be set and monitored from any system.

Also, the tool's defragmentation method can consume a great deal of memory when working with large partitions, so the utility may be impractical for use on large-scale disk subsystems. According to the company, a solution is currently in development to address this issue.

All in all, Diskeeper does its job quite well at both the desktop and workgroup server levels. But it will need to further scale its capabilities to play ball in the enterprise server and storage area network league.

Mike Connell (mconnell@flash.net) is a systems analyst in Austin, Texas.

The bottom line: very good

Diskeeper 4.0 for Windows NT

This is easily the most powerful defragmentation utility for Windows NT, but some tweaking still needs to be done for it to be a viable tool on large disk subsystems.

Pros: Boot-time defragmentation addresses paging file and directories; local and network scheduling; detailed analysis and logging.

Cons: Aggressive memory utilisation; lacks true centralised schedule maintenance.

Executive Software; www.execsoft.com.

Platforms: Windows NT 4.0 Server, Windows NT 4.0 Workstation.

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