Defragment and optimize your hard disk

My Windows NT server is a mess. With all the products I install, test, and delete from my hard disk, the free-space map on my hard disk has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese. If this scenario sounds familiar, you will want to try Raxco Software's PerfectDisk NT.

PerfectDisk NT is NTFS and FAT file system defragmentation software for NT Server and NT Workstation systems. Unlike other defragmentation products that merely consolidate files and free space into contiguous blocks, PerfectDisk NT uses intelligent file placement to classify files and group them on your hard disk. This method slows your system's fragmentation process.

PerfectDisk NT consists of two components: pdengine.exe, which is the defragmenter that runs in the background, and perfectdisk.exe, which is an interface you use to control how the defragmenter operates on your system. Installing PerfectDisk NT was simple. I popped the CD-ROM into my Prioris NT server; changed to the directory with Intel binaries; and ran the setup program, which launched an InstallShield session. The program prompted me for the installation directory, copied the files, and ran the PerfectDisk NT pdengine.exe program. At this point, I encountered a problem.

By default, PerfectDisk NT includes a license for NT Workstation. When the installation program launched pdengine.exe, I received an error message that I had an invalid license. This message did not surprise me because I run NT Server. For the software to function, I had to run the PerfectDisk GUI program and manually enter my server license key. Because of this problem, I thought the install program was inadequate--it should have prompted me for a server license during installation to avoid the error message. After I completed the license entry, the software was ready to run.

The PerfectDisk GUI administration program is simple to use. When you launch the program, a screen appears with three blocks on the left side: Computers, Partitions, and PerfectDisk Profiles. The Computers block contains a list of NT workstations and servers running PerfectDisk NT within your domain. This feature lets you remotely control how PerfectDisk runs on other machines. The Partitions block contains a list of all partitions local to the system you are running on. Finally, the PerfectDisk Profiles block contains a list of profiles, or stored configurations, you can select to run. Screen 1 shows these three blocks.

You can defragment a partition in one of two ways. You can double-click the partition you want to defragment within the Partitions block, which interactively launches the defragmenter. Alternatively, you can create a new profile or edit an existing profile. Within the profile, you select the partitions you want to defragment and when you want the system to defragment them. For example, if your system is busy all day except between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., you can run the defragmenter every day during that period.

When you launch an interactive defragmentation session, several prompts appear on the screen. These prompts include Warehouse Age, Volatile Age, and Defragment Only. Warehouse files are files that are unlikely to change, and volatile files are files that you are likely to delete.

PerfectDisk NT uses these values to make intelligent decisions about where to place files within these categories on your partition. When you click the Defragment Only box, the software performs a defragmentation without any intelligent file placement. Once you specify these values, you click OK to begin a defragmentation session.

You use the same information to create a profile and schedule it for batch execution. To define a schedule for batch executions, you can choose from three types of schedules: weekly, daily, or one-time.

PerfectDisk NT's intelligent file placement feature is worth the price of the software. You can run a trial version of the software at Raxco's Web site. If you are in the market for an NTFS and FAT defragmenter, add PerfectDisk NT to your list of products to evaluate.

PerfectDisk NT
Contact: Raxco Software * 301-527-0803 or 800-546-9728
Web: http://www.raxco.com
Price: $49 (workstation), $85 (server)
System Requirements: Windows NT 4.0 or later