Everything in its place

Martha Stewart would be impressed. While Diskeeper 6.0 Second Edition is not made of hand-woven, berry-dyed fabric and it doesn’t exactly have the charm of a late 19th-century butterchurn collection, Martha would thrill at the way it organizes and restores system files – without the need of a glue gun.

Diskeeper 6.0 Second Edition is an automatic disk defragmenter, designed for use with Windows 95, 98, Me, NT and 2000. The program, available for both servers and workstations, allows for all disks in a Windows operating system to be kept defragmented indefinitely. John Joseph, the Burbank, Calif.-based lead engineer on the Diskeeper project for Executive Software, explained the fundamentals of defragmentation.

“If you have a chunk of data, you put it in a file and then you write it to a disk. A disk is arranged like an old record album with grooves, so you have to put the file in one of the grooves, “Joseph said. “Sometimes there isn’t enough room to put a file that you’ve just made into a specific spot that’s big enough because there’s already stuff all over the disk, so you have to break the file up.

“That’s a feature of the operating system, believe it or not. It allows you to store files that are bigger than an available free space,” Joseph continued. “That’s a good thing, but after a while, it’s kind of like the floor in a five year old’s bedroom: there’s just no place to walk. So you have to clean it up, and that’s what Diskeeper does. You’ve got the blocks and the Legos and the Beanie Babies scattered all over the floor, so you get a box for the Beanie Babies and you put the blocks back in their box and the Legos back in their box and everything’s nice and neat again. You can actually find a Beanie Baby that you’re looking for or a piece of Lego that you’re looking for or the blocks you need to make your fort,” he said.

“That’s basically what the problem with fragmentation is. If you have a file that’s fragmented, you have to hunt around finding all the pieces of the file. Every time the operating system has to do that and find a piece, that’s a delay. So if you put all the pieces together in one place, you can get the file very rapidly.”

Barry Haysom, vice-president of finance for CII Petroleum Ltd. in Calgary has been using Diskeeper products since 1996, when he made the jump from Windows 3.1 to Windows NT, which did not have an integrated defragmenter.

“I know about computers from a survivor standpoint,” Haysom said. “I get close to my computers in terms of perceptions of operating, performance and speed, and I would never not defragment. Fragmented hard drives can hamper the overall efficiency of the system.”

One of the features that Haysom appreciates is the intuitive nature of the product, and the fact that a defrag can be done without the user having to watch over it.

“Diskeeper has solved my problems without me even being there,” Haysom said.

Derek Armstrong, president of 2 Dimensions in Toronto, appreciates the “Set it and Forget it” feature on Diskeeper 6.0 second edition. This feature allows an administrator to schedule defragmenting as needed across a number of volumes or disks across a network.

“I don’t have to manually run it,” Armstrong said. “It only runs if it needs to, so I am at ninety-nine per cent optimum at most times.”

Diskeeper 6.0 second edition has incorporated a boot time defragmentation technology, which allows system files to be defragmented in about the time it takes for a typical system boot. This edition is faster than its predecessor and a number of open bug reports have been closed.

The single licence street price for Diskeeper 6.0 Second Edition server version is US$249.00 and US$49 for workstation. Volume licensing is available. Executive Software can be reached at 1-800-829-6468, or online at www.execsoft.com, where 30-day trialware of Diskeeper

is available.