Norton's Speed Disk 5.0 defragments and optimizes NT files, directories, space

Norton's Speed Disk 5.0 defragments and optimizes NT files, directories, space

By Jason Byrne

GCN Staff

Like the leaves that fill your yard in the fall, file fragments clutter a server's hard disk. Unlike dead leaves, the fragments cause poor performance, slow booting, lost data and shutdowns.

Symantec Corp.'s Norton Speed Disk 5.0 gives an assist to Microsoft Windows NT, which handles disk fragmentation much better than Windows 9x operating systems, although NT File System volumes still do get fragmented.

Many NT defragmentation tools simply rearrange the files in contiguous chunks on the drive.

Norton Speed
Disk color-keys the areas to show where files are being moved. The interface can be omitted for remote administration, which is helpful for sysadmins.

In contrast, Speed Disk defragments not just the files but the directories, memory page files, open files and free space.

That alone is impressive. In addition, Speed Disk optimizes files for quick access to the most-used files, placing the least-used ones at the end of the disk. Finally, Speed Disk defragments the Master File Table of all files on an NTFS volume because a badly fragmented MFT can keep NT from booting.

Speed Disk's defragmentation and optimization greatly improve the system boot and shutdown times for NT Server, and they happen while the system is running. No need to wait and reboot.

Because disk access is such an important part of server performance, this tool is most useful for network administrators. Performance and storage reliability are not as big a concern for NT Workstation users, although they see benefits, too.

Takes little space

Box Score              

Norton Speed Disk 5.0 for Windows NT

Defragmenter and optimizer for NT drives

Symantec Corp.; Cupertino, Calif.;

tel. 800-441-7234

Price: $249 per server site license for 10 servers, $33 per workstation for 100 licenses

+ Defragments files and optimizes file order

+ Remote administration for enterprises

Real-life requirements:

Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 3 or higher version, Pentium server or workstation, 64M of RAM, 41M of free storage for software, additional 3 percent to 5 percent of unused drive space

One of Speed Disk's best points is its ability to defragment the rarer drives such as RAID, fault-tolerant and mirrored types.

It's surprising how little free disk space it needs to do its work. Speed Disk requires only 3 percent to 5 percent of the volume to be unused. Some similar products require 10 percent or more free space.

I tested the package on several servers running NT Server 4.0. All had Service Pack 5 loaded, although Speed Disk requires only Service Pack 3.

I ran the tool on Primary Domain Controllers and NT application servers, never having to shut down applications or services while doing so. There was no serious decrease in system performance, either. If a server is approaching capacity, you might notice some performance degradation, but the system would have to be very overloaded to show a big effect.

I also loaded Speed Disk on several PCs running Windows NT Workstation with Service Pack 5. On workstations, you have two options. You can install the software to load with a graphical interface, or without one for remote control by an administrator.

The remote control function would be helpful in large organizations. The administrator could set multiple PC local drives to defragment from a central administration tool, such as Norton System Center. Future versions will also support control under IBM/Tivoli TME 10 Enterprise software and Windows 2000.

A fast job

My test drives had various degrees of fragmentation, ranging from 15 percent to 66 percent. Even on large drives, Speed Disk made quick work of defragmenting and optimizing. I could control the system resources allocated to the process to minimize impact on services running under NT.

After it finished, there was no need to reboot as with some other products, which is extremely important for continuously running servers. Speed Disk can be scheduled to work at convenient times without further bother.


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