PerfectDisk 2000 covers the bases

Sluggish systems aren't an inevitable fact of life. As files are written

and rewritten to hard-working hard drives, the operating system often has

to break them up and stow the pieces in distant locations on the drive,

slowing down reads and writes. Disk defragmenters reshuffle the data on

the drive to put the pieces back together again, thus improving performance.

With the introduction of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000, all current

versions of Windows now offer a disk defragmenter utility. But the built-in

tools lack many of the higher-end features of third-party defrag programs,

such as Symantec Corp.'s Norton SpeedDisk and Executive Software International

Inc.'s Diskeeper. The new PerfectDisk 2000 from Raxco Software Inc. combines

many of the best features of both of the better-known defraggers.

PerfectDisk 2000 works with all versions of Windows, including the new

Windows 2000 servers and workstations, Windows 95(SR2)/98, and Windows NT

4.0. And the program can defragment in a single pass virtually all the files

on your systems' disks (even NT metafiles such as the paging file and Master

File Table).

Centralized scheduling and a consistent user interface across Windows

versions should help administrators maintain the health of their users'

disks. What's more, those departments running networks equipped with Microsoft

System Management Server can install the program to nodes over the network.

Scheduling is managed via profiles. These forms are easy to create and

edit, and they allow administrators to specify systems, drives, priority

and operational mode for either NT/2000 or 95/98 networks. Unfortunately,

we were unable to schedule our mixed network from a single server because

of the way PerfectDisk uses NT security. But both Windows 95/98 and NT/2000

systems can be managed from any system of the same class.

Other new features enhance performance, including threshold-based defragmentation

and defragmentation of files with multiple data streams (such as those used

by Macintosh services for Windows NT). You can do a complete optimization

of nonsystem partitions without rebooting the machine, but cleaning up the

paging file and Master File Table on the system partition requires a shutdown.

We installed PerfectDisk 2000 to an NT 4.0 server and several network

stations, including Windows 95, Windows 98, and NT 4.0 workstations. Without

Microsoft SMS running, we were unable to install over the network. This

will hardly be an issue with small local-area networks, as installation

from the CD was simple and effortless. Larger networks are more likely to

have SMS in their mix.

We were pleased to have the option of analyzing my local disks thoroughly

before deciding on a type of optimization. It was an extra bonus that you

could also select and analyze disks on network nodes as well. A graphical

display showed the distribution of files of four types (rarely modified,

occasionally modified, frequently modified and unmovable) as well as directories

and free space. Additionally, a tabbed window provided statistics on disk

usage and condition, and you could save or print it to keep a record.

To schedule automatic optimization, we began by clicking the Create

Profile button. This let us specify the details of an optimization run for

a particular network node and then, if we wished, to assign other nodes

to the same profile.

Scheduling was a separate step. We had to specify the same drives, priority,

mode, and recurrence for all systems assigned to the profile, but the process

easily differentiated among systems by allowing me to prepare multiple profiles

and schedule them separately for distinct sets of machines. Both bases were

covered: Large networks of identical systems could be managed en masse,

and exceptions could be made easily for unique machines.

The interface was deceptively simple, with menu and tool bars over a

window divided into a directory tree and another pane for multiple purposes.

Some functions were difficult to locate without consulting the online documentation,

however, and we hope that a little extra effort goes into interface design

for the next version.

Optimization was not what you'd call fast, but it was relatively thorough:

On one 347M partition, fragmentation was reduced from 43 percent to 1.8

percent in under a half hour. PerfectDisk also optimizes the file arrangement

as it works, and the resulting drive map showed bands of solid color representing

file groupings by usage, with a few flecks of interspersed files of other

use patterns.

When we tried running Norton Speed Disk 5.0 after PerfectDisk, it cleared

up the remaining irregularities. On the other hand, using these programs

in the reverse order produced similar results on another drive. We concluded

that these programs performed equally effectively.

Administrators looking for an optimization utility primarily for servers

may prefer Norton Speed Disk, because it can defragment NTFS metafiles without

rebooting — and who wants to shut down a server unnecessarily? But PerfectDisk

can handle more Windows versions than SpeedDisk, and its networked administration

is simpler.

REPORT CARD

Score: B+

Raxco Software Inc.

800-546-9728

www.raxco.com

Pricing and availability: PerfectDisk is available on GSA schedules. Retailpricing is $49 per computer for 1-49 copies. Volume discounts and enterpriselicensing are available.

BY Tom Marshall
Apr. 19, 2000

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