GCN LAB REVIEW—Software

Diskeeper 2009 can breathe new life into old PCs

Diskeeper 2009 product boxI know I should get a new laptop, but now just isn’t the time. That’s why I turned to Diskeeper 2009 Professional to give my laptop—or at least what’s left of it—a few more months of service before it becomes a pearly doorstop in laptop heaven.

Diskeeper 2009 has kept what made earlier versions so useful and added a few new features. It defragments and clears up your cluttered PC hard drive. It runs unobtrusively in the background and will defrag even older laptops, making them run more efficiently.

GCN LAB TEST

Diskeeper 2009

Pros: Efficiently defrags, maps PC hard drives.
Cons: The improvement in performance could be more dramatic.

Performance: A-
Features: B+
Ease of Use: A
Value: A-
Price: Professional: $59.95; Enterprise Server: $999.95

Diskeeper 2009’s main innovation is InvisiTasking, proprietary technology that lets Diskeeper run in the background. Users don’t have to schedule defragmentation jobs, because the operations are automatic. The new version also offers I-FAAST (Intelligent File Access Acceleration Sequencing Technology) 2.0, which is designed to squeeze 10 percent to 80 percent more performance out of the drive. Also new is an enhanced defragmentation engine that can defrag in extreme conditions, such as a disk with as little as one percent free space.

I got my review copy of the software from Diskeeper’s sales staff at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month, but it can also be downloaded from the Diskeeper Web site, www.diskeeper.com.

My test PC was my home laptop, a Compaq Presario 2100, running Windows XP with a mobile AMD Athlon processor, circa 2004. It’s my main telecommuting laptop and one of the reasons I don’t like telecommuting. Some days the “y” and “h” keys stop working for no discernible reason and then start working fine again the next day. It regularly hangs up on graphically intensive Web pages, and its shutdown routine can take a good four minutes.

Before installing Diskeeper 2009, I ran the PassMark Software Performance Test V6.1 benchmark suite on the Presario notebook PC. The laptop scored a 124.7 for all tests, which is poor, but not surprising.

It took one minute and 34 seconds to download Diskeeper, and then about a minute to install.

Right away, Diskeeper gives you a map of your PC’s performance, showing the health status of files by ribbons of color. Red areas indicate low performing files, blue bands are high performing files, and white space represents unused areas.

Diskeeper analyzed the Presario and drew a map of its files in a few seconds. The map showed so much red, indicating fragmentation, that it looked like one of my college essays after my freshman writing teacher had graded it. About a third of the files were blue and the rest was white space.

The software also gave me a job report, showing 9,358 fragmented files and 33,018 fragments. The average number of fragments per file was 1.33.

A yellow icon popped up that said, “Warning! The overall health of Volume C: is degraded.”

Diskeeper defragments automatically in the background while your system is idling. I left it running for several hours over two days.

After Diskeeper had defragmented the disk, it analyzed the hard drive as “healthy.” It took another snapshot of the drive sectors, and this time the vast majority of them were a healthy blue.

Once again, I ran the PassMark benchmark suite. The Presario scored 125.7, only a point higher. But when I examined the individual scores of the different capabilities, the Presario showed dramatic improvement in a few areas. Before running Diskeeper, the CPU Mark score was 143.5; after running Diskeeper, it was 172.3.

Other evidence that the laptop was running more smoothly wasn’t as measurable, but it was no less real. I didn’t get the usual notices that “Microsoft has encountered a problem—you will lose any unsaved data.” And the “y” and the “h” keys worked just fine. For now. I know I will have to spring for a new laptop at some point. Until then, Diskeeper 2009 has given me at least a few more months to say goodbye to the Presario and made telecommuting less frustrating.

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

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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