Diskeeper 2007 Pro Premier

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, March 2007
Published by: Diskeeper Corporation
Requires: Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate, Business, Enterprise (all 32 & 64 bit versions); Windows XP Home, Tablet PC, Media Center, XP Professional, XP Professional x64 (all 32 & 64 bit versions); Windows 2000 Professional; 10-20MB available hard drive space
MSRP: US$99.95

Diskeeper Corporation seems to have found the key to eternal youth. While other mature software developers sometimes end up developing their products into corpulent and sassy versions of their originally more efficient and respectful selves, Diskeeper continues to innovate while keeping its eye on the target. The Diskeeper 2007 drive defragmentation maintenance utility is designed to be used on desktop and laptop PCs, workstations or servers running any version of Windows 2000, XP or Vista.

Windows and other operating systems are designed to use hard drive storage space as efficiently as possible. Your operating system always looks for the first available empty spot on the hard drive to store a file. In the case of an existing file that you're merely editing or adding to or modifying in some other way, the operating system tries to store the file in the same spot it was stored before. Unfortunately, if other files have been stored all around the one you're working on, the first available spot (and, quite often, the original spot) may not be large enough to hold the entire file you then try to save. So the operating system puts as much of the file as it can in the first spot, then goes to the next empty spot and stores as much of it as possible there. If the second spot can't hold the rest of the file, the operating system will continue to break up the file and store it in successive available spots until the process is complete.

The process of deliberately fragmenting files to make more efficient use of hard drive space is highly developed. It is unfortunately also highly inefficient when it comes to actually opening and saving files during productive use. It makes excellent use of your available hard drive space, but gradually creates a situation in which it takes longer and longer for the operating system to load files, save files and search for files.


Almost as important as speeding up file reads and writes while you're working, the time needed to do backups can also be reduced by defragmenting. The main reason is that your backup software has to fetch all the bits and pieces of each fragmented file and assemble them before each file can be compressed and stored in the backup location. Fewer file fragments logically means faster backups.

The Windows operating system slows down for other reasons. Worse than file fragmentation in some cases, orphaned entries in the Windows Registry left behind by sloppy uninstallers can create so much dead-end garbage that it ends up slowing down boot times, program launches and other activities. Diskeeper is not designed to solve that problem, so a dedicated registry maintenance utility such as Registry Booster or Registry Mechanic should be used weekly to clean out and help maintain the large registry file.

Diskeeper 2007 is designed to track down all the disparate parts of every file on a hard drive and reassemble the pieces into a contiguously stored unit. The whole point of the exercise is to reduce the time needed for a hard drive to fetch or save file data when you tell it to do so. Simple, yes? In actual practice though, some hard drive defragmenters are better than others.

I've been using Diskeeper as a part of my standard set of PC utilities installed on every Windows machine I've owned or used since 1996. I've also been using UniBlue's Registry Booster as part of my utilities toolbox since 2000. I'm extremely critical of all the products in my standard set of utilities simply because I've used them so extensively that even the slightest drop in their efficiency or effectiveness is glaringly visible. That said, over the years Diskeeper has never let me down. My approach to this review was simply to find problems in a new version of a well established and highly trusted product.

The most important aspect of any regular maintenance effort is the degree to which it does not interrupt your work. Some maintenance tasks are unavoidably disruptive — backups, monitor calibration, spyware scans and full system virus scans for example. But there are many maintenance tasks which have evolved through smart software design into something which can take place while you're working. Hard drive defragmentation has long been able to take place in the background, allowing you to continue working while it's happening. But the process hasn't been perfect, with system slowdowns occurring whenever the defragmenter encounters a particularly nasty area of the drive. In the worst situations, tens of thousands of pieces of file data have to be lifted or temporarily stored in memory in order to assemble then resave defragmented files to the hard drive. So the biggest new development and in my opinion the most important new feature in Diskeeper 2007 is something called InvisiTasking. What it basically means is that Diskeeper has found a way to perform constant defragmentation maintenance on your hard drives without causing any detectable slowdowns of your system. I've been poking away with InvisTasking for almost two months as of this writing and I still can't figure out how it's done. All I know for sure is that it works. I used to lose about an hour of productive time every week due to drive defragmentation routines which caused system slowdowns from time to time. I've got that hour back now.

A few versions ago, Diskeeper introduced something called Intelligent File Access Acceleration Sequencing Technology (I-FAAST). It's a method of reducing the time needed for the operating system and an active program to access the files you need. While I-FAAST has never been of particular benefit to inveterate web surfers, email fiends and instant messaging addicts, almost anyone using heavy duty productivity applications of some sort (CAD/CAM, database, graphic and video software) will notice shorter file load and save times with I-FAAST enabled. Intelligent file caching and file buffering has always been part science and part magic as far as I'm concerned, but here again Diskeeper seems to have improved the original approach with a slightly more efficient I-FAAST 2. Diskeeper 2007 defragments multiple drives simultaneously.

The fully automated Set It & Forget It mode was used throughout the review period. Basically, this mode uses either a set schedule or after hours scheduling (essentially defined as any time the computer is inactive for a specified number of minutes or hours) or InvisiTasking to continuously monitor file fragmentation attempts by the operating system. Whenever Diskeeper 2007 detects file fragmentation above a certain threshold, it goes to work as a background task and quietly defragments the problem files. We tried Diskeeper 2007 on everything from a really cranky old Pentium III/500MHz (Katmai) running Windows 2000 Professional and a pair of balky old 20GB Western Digital 5,4oo RPM drives, to a Dell E521 with an AMD Sempron 3400+ running Windows Vista Home Basic, to a workhorse Intel Core 2 Duo PC running Windows XP Professional. In all cases, even on the old PIII with only 256MB RAM, Diskeeper ran flawlessly. It should be noted that on the old PIII with its limited RAM and slower hard drives, some system slowdown was periodically evident. However, the almost imperceptible slowdown with InvisiTasking enable had less than half the overall effect of Diskeeper 10 Professional Premier (our previous version) running in the background using the previous of version of Set It & Forget It (which does not have InvisiTasking). The Dell E521 with 1GB RAM running Internet Explorer 7, Microsoft Word, and PhotoShop Elements 5 simultaneously showed no evidence of slowdown due to Diskeeper 2007 at any time during the review period. My conclusion is that InvisiTasking works extremely well.

Cons: Some firewall software may react to Diskeeper 2007, usually because Diskeeper contains among other things a very specific kind of server component. You can safely allow a firewall to pass Diskeeper 2007.

Pros: There's no doubt that Diskeeper must continue battling its competitors with ever more efficient and always-on versions of the utility. But with Diskeeper 2007, the company has truly stepped up into the productivity big leagues. The Boot Time Mode safely performs Microsoft-recommended defragmentation of critical system files including directory consolidation, paging file, Master File Table (MFT), metadata and the registry every time you reboot. With no discernable interruptions or system slowdowns while defragmentation takes place, Diskeeper 2007 offers a drive maintenance solution which is at once elegant and efficient. General improvements in the user interface are quite welcome in this version and seem to make it quite easy for new users to get started. The online help system is thorough and provides ample guidance when making custom settings or creating unique defragmentation schedules. We recommend using Set It & Forget It with InvisiTasking, but to each his/her own. Diskeeper 2007 has all the marks of a great design. Turning on I-FAAST and at the same time using a 512MB or 1GB USB Flash drive to take advantage of Windows Vista's built-in ReadyBoost feature (which moves the pagefile into the fast memory of the flash drive) resulted in a cumulative speed improvement. All drives subject to Diskeeper's ministrations ran better afterward, and provided measurably faster access to the operating system for files reads and writes. That's the whole point of the exercise and Diskeeper 2007 passes with flying colors. Highly recommended.

KSN Product Rating:



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