Diskeeper puts PCs in order

GCN Lab review

Running Diskeeper 2008 Pro Premier on your PC is like having a professional maid service clean your house while you are at work. You leave in the morning with the laundry basket overflowing, dishes piled high in the sink and dust bunnies getting ready to stage a coup. When you come home, the laundry is neatly folded, the dishes are sparkling clean and the whole place has a neat, orderly look. It's like a new house.

That's what Diskeeper did for my unkempt desktop PC hard drive. At least it feels that way. It's as though Snow White and her woodland friends cleaned my computer while I wasn't looking, whistling the whole time.

The best part is that Diskeeper can defragment your hard drive via its InvisiTasking feature, running in the background while you surf the Web or work on documents. So there's no need to set aside time to defragment your PC.

The software uses I-FAAST file sequencing technology, which puts the files used most often on the most easily accessible part of the disk, while files you rarely use are placed on the back burner.

You can also choose to do a boot-time defragmentation, which defragments the disk every time you boot up. Also running automatically in the background is FragShield, a tool that prevents further fragmentation, a sort of vitamin for your computer's health.

Diskeeper can perform an analysis of your PC in a few seconds. It provides a map of your drive's status, showing volume size, amount of free space, total number of files and fragments in a colorful ribbon graphic. My Hewlett-Packard Pavilion laptop PC showed a lot of blue bands, which indicated high-performing files and folders. But there were also little ribbons of red, showing low-performing files and folders. Pink stripes indicate low-performing system files. This red and pink combo looked like an inflammation.

Fragmentation builds over time. Thus I didn't expect Diskeeper to yield the same performance gains on my zippy new 2.80GHz HP Pavilion with 512M RAM as on my 4-year-old 1.8GHz Dell Pentium 4 desktop PC that's been with me through thick and thin.

It took about a half hour to run the Diskeeper defragmenter on the laptop. After defragmentation, the laptop was speedier, but not by much. Already in good shape, it took only four seconds less to save a 400M PowerPoint file to the C drive, going from 35 seconds to 31 seconds.

But the situation with my Dell desktop was another story. I kept thinking back to the housekeeping analogy. If your house is usually clean, having a housekeeping service come clean it up once a week isn't going to make that much of a difference. But if you run a cluttered, untidy house, that investment will be an enormous benefit.

That was true with my older desktop PC. This computer is so clogged with pictures, music and bad poetry from at least July 2000, I couldn't run the same test I ran on the laptop ' the 400M PowerPoint file took so long to save to the C drive that I abandoned it and settled on using a 185M file.

Before running Diskeeper, it took 1 minute, 52 seconds to save the 185M PowerPoint file to the Dell's C drive. But after defragmenting the PC with Diskeeper, it took 37 seconds, a huge time savings. If you're not in a hurry to drop big money on a new PC ' and who is these days? ' $100 will buy you a copy of Diskeeper 2008 that could restore your hard drive to its youthful vim and vigor. And you can whistle while you work.

Diskeeper, (800) 829-6468, www.diskeeper.com

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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