Diskeeper 10 Professional Premier

Reviewed by: Mark Goldstein, January 2006 (updated Dec 2006 )
Published by: Diskeeper Corporation
Requires: Windows XP Home, XP Tablet PC, XP Media Center, NT 4.0 Workstation (SP6), 2000 Professional, XP Professional, XP Professional x64 or Vista (any version except Server)
MSRP: $99.95

Diskeeper is a utility program designed to defragment hard disks, master file tables and swap files, using intelligent programming code which performs initial analysis of disk status and ongoing analyses of file usage. The whole point of the exercise is to find a combination of file defragmentation frequency and method that is suited to individual users and the loads they place on their hard disks and file systems. It's a neat trick if you can pull it off and Diskeeper, not content with the completeness of version 9, has upped the ante in the file defrag and disk maintenance software category by tweaking their flagship program again and in the process adding a few more interesting and robust new features.

File fragmentation on your hard disk occurs whenever you save or resave a file to a physical location on the disk that is simply too small to store the file data in a contiguous (uninterrupted) state. Because individual computer users have no real control over the physical location of each file—something which is controlled entirely by the operating system—the moment a file is moved or deleted, the space it formerly occupied is made available again. The next file that's saved might be assigned to that location, but if the location isn't large enough the operating system will store part of the file there and then look for the next available space, no matter how large or small, to store the rest of the file. And if the next location isn't big enough, the operating system will store another little part of the file and continue looking for more available space, etc., etc., until the whole file is properly saved or stored. It all takes place relatively quickly, often in a fraction of a second for small files, longer for larger files. Certainly we've all experienced significant wait times while some very large video or graphic file is saved to a hard drive. We've also experienced significant wait times when loading large video or graphic files into a viewer or editing program.


Defragmenting your hard disk is a procedure which unites all the disparate file fragments into proper contiguous files. The end result ideally is shorter file save times and shorter file loading times. The corollary to the end result is that your hard disk doesn't have to work as hard to store or load files—the smaller the number of file pieces, the less time the hard disk has to spend searching for and storing or assembling everything. The effort put in by the operating system is correspondingly reduced as well—not as much work to do sorting out so many file pieces. Of course the chances of the operating system making a mistake on any of those individual file pieces is also correspondingly reduced.

So what's the down side? Nothing at all really, unless the defragmentation software maker has done some sloppy programming and left the software in such a state that it takes forever to get the job done. But a well designed drive or file defragmentation utility generally keeps the home fires burning bright.

And how does Diskeeper 10 Professional Premier stack up against these requirements? In a word, perfectly. The Premier version has three main benefits which distinguish it from other Diskeeper versions: a) I-FAAST, b) expanded support for large drive volumes up to 2 Terabytes (TB), and c) native support for 64-bit operating systems (mainly, Windows XP 64-Bit).

I think the most important improvement is I-FAAST, Diskeeper's acronym for Intelligent File Access Acceleration Sequencing Technology. It's an adaptive file sequencing technology. After the I-FAAST sub-utility built into Diskeeper spends two or three minutes benchmarking your drives (IDE, SATA, SCSI, RAID, etc.) to figure out their individual performance characteristics, it continues to monitor your file access patterns to determine which files are used most frequently. During an actual I-FAAST defrag job, it sequences the files it has noted in order to give you some additional speed whenever you access those frequently used files. Projects, media files and games load faster. The improvement is measurable, and more important, noticeable. I-FAAST defrag jobs are set up in addition to regular defrag jobs. The process is simple using Diskeeper's built-in wizards.

Before upgrading half a dozen Windows XP and Windows 2000 computers to Diskeeper 10 Professional Premier, and installing version 10 on another half dozen machines with no defragmentation software of any kind, I spent a couple of hours benchmarking each machine. That is, I did some file loading tests using a stopwatch. What I found on the upgraded machines after retiming the same file loads was a 5% average improvement after running consecutive defragmentation and I-FAAST jobs. On the previously unmaintained machines (which Diskeeper 10 flagged as being extremely fragmented), I measured an average improvement of 35% after running consecutive defragmentation and I-FAAST jobs. I was impressed enough to purchase additional version 10 licenses for the rest of our network.

Here's an interesting Diskeeper-related statistic that I recently calculated. If my staff of research and development specialists continue to regularly work on project files as a matter of course (they will), file fragmentation can add as much as 10 seconds of file loading time to each and every task. On average, my researchers and developers work on approximately 10 different large files every day, loading each file as many as 5 times per day. There are 15 researchers and developers, on average, in the office every day. An additional 10 seconds of loading time amounts to 750 seconds of wasted time each day. Multiply that by 5.5 days per week and 45 weeks per year and you get 185,625 seconds. That's actually 51.5 hours of wasted time. Even if I err on the side of caution in my calculations and chop the whole thing in half, I still get approximately 25 hours each year of time spent doing nothing but waiting for large files to load. That 25 hours costs my and my company approximately $2,500. But fifteen Diskeeper licenses will only cost me $1,185, not too mention the revenue I can generate during those 25 otherwise lost hours. I do some funny calculations sometimes because I spend a lot time immersed in research and data and numbers. The bottom line for my business is that every bit of time I save is money in the bank. The other bottom line is that as long as I install and schedule the use of effective maintenance tools, I don't have to think about this stuff in the first place.

Cons: I'd like to see the defragmentation process priority selection sub-dialog available globally. Right now it's accessible only from the Job Properties dialog when doing a manual defrag or creating a Set It & Forget It schedule.

Pros: The effects of file fragmentation are widespread. Slow performance, long boot-times, random crashes and freeze-ups, and sometimes a complete inability to boot up are problems often blamed on operating systems when disk fragmentation is frequently the real culprit. You need to use something and Diskeeper is a great choice. The user interface tweaks, particularly the revised and helpful text in the guide pane of the main program window, are great improvements. I-FAAST really works and the additional cost to get it in Professional Premier is well worth it. Overall, regular file defragmentation jobs are faster than ever. You can now run primary, secondary and I-FAAST defrag jobs, all based on different criteria. Boot-time defragmentation jobs are easy to set up with a single click from the separate boot-time defrag job dialog. Diskeeper 10 Professional Premier is a great maintenance tool for any and all home-office and small business Windows computers. I measured specific performance improvements on most of the computers on my network after upgrading from Diskeeper 9 to version 10. On several machines that were running without any file defragmentation software of any kind, the improvements eked out by version 10 were terrific. In one case—a general purpose Windows XP Professional machine used by half a dozen different people each and every week—Diskeeper actually saved the machine from retirement. I was going to replace it, but the Diskeeper maintenance (and a subsequent once-over with SpinRite 6) has given the machine a new lease on life. Highly recommended.



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