Diskeeper's a PC housekeeper

Computer maintenance is like cleaning the attic. If it doesn't get done, sooner or later cobwebs will appear: slow response times, long boot-ups and even longer shutdowns.

Depending on the operating system, these degradations might even require the ultimate cleanup'formatting the hard drive and reinstalling OS and drivers.

Don't want to go there? Executive Software Inc. claims that running its Diskeeper 7.0 defragmentation software at least once a week will forestall the need for Microsoft Windows reinstallation.

The GCN Lab found that Diskeeper 7.0 installed and uninstalled easily and worked faster on some large hard drives than the built-in Windows 9x defrag utility.

On average, Diskeeper could analyze and defrag a Win98 system's drive 50 percent faster than the native utility. Diskeeper finished in 12 minutes, whereas Win98's utility took an average of 20 minutes on another PC with the same specifications.

On Windows 2000 and later platforms, however, the OS' defrag software worked just as fast as Diskeeper 7.0.

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Diskeeper did give far more detailed information about the condition of the hard drive than did the embedded utility. On a Win 2000 system, Diskeeper found 653 fragmented files and 2,666 excess file fragments with an average of 1.13 fragments per file. That meant only 81 percent of the 20G capacity was available.

After defragmentation, eight fragmented files and 76 excess file fragments remained. The average of fragments per file dropped to one.

Although those numbers don't say much about improvement in performance, the lab's Alterion Corp. benchmark suite did.

Before defragmentation, a Sharp PC-UM20 notebook PC running Win 2000 scored an average of 2,008. After Diskeeper 7.0 defragmentation, the score rose to 2,200, almost a 10 percent increase that was noticeable at boot-up and shutdown.

The Win 2000 utility gave similar results, but its information was less comprehensive, and the user interface was lower in quality. The Win 2000 utility, unlike Diskeeper, showed a list of the system files that remained fragmented and in excess.

Diskeeper does need to lose some weight. Its 6.4M size is hefty for utility software.

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