Disk fragmentation in Windows NT is a well-documented problem. Executive Software's Diskeeper 4.0 for Windows NT is a solution. When you run hard disks for a year or more without a full backup and restore, disk performance can suffer a 30 to 40 percent slowdown because of fragmented files. Fragmentation affects all files, including kernel code in the system root, documents, spreadsheets, databases, the Master File Table (MFT), and pagefiles. Disk fragmentation problems are the reason Microsoft includes a standalone version of Diskeeper in Windows 2000 (Win2K). If you run a large network with many servers, you'll want to check out the enterprise version to automate disk defragmentation procedures across the network.

You must install Diskeeper on each system on which you want to perform this preventive maintenance. After you install it, you can schedule disk defragmentation for any system drives. You can easily define defrag jobs and schedule them to run once a month to multiple times per day, depending on your system-maintenance needs.

For serious fragmentation problems, the boot-time consolidation feature compacts the MFT (the meta data structure that indexes all files on a volume) and makes all directory and file entries contiguous at the beginning of the drive. To do a boot-time consolidation, you must shut down the system—Diskeeper cleans the MFT during the restart and then transfers control to the bootup code. This process can take from 10 minutes to more than an hour, depending on the size of the drive and the number of files stored on the drive.

The last major issue with disk performance is pagefile fragmentation. The performance hit of a badly fragmented pagefile is in the same category as a badly fragmented MFT—the effects are serious, even on RAID drives. Fortunately, Diskeeper can also keep your pagefiles contiguous.

I like three of this product's other features. First, the analysis generates a report that itemizes the number of fragments in each file so that you can see where the worst problems are on a drive-by-drive basis. Second, the GUI playback from an interactive defrag is almost mesmerizing—you can watch the fragments move and disappear over the course of the job. And third, Diskeeper adds a button to the file Properties context menu so that you can defrag an individual file to correct spot problems. You can download a 30-day evaluation copy from Executive Software's Web site.

Diskeeper 4.0 for Windows NT Server
Contact: Executive Software * 818-547-2050
or 800-829-6468
Web: http://www.execusoft.com

Corrections to this Article:

  • This article includes an incorrect URL for Executive Software. The correct URL is http://www.executive.com.