Basic disk defragmentation is still provided – and often needed – with Windows 7, Windows 8 and older versions of Windows. But there's also a market for more thorough third-party applications. Go beyond the simple data rearrangers, though, and you'll find Condusiv Diskeeper Home, now in version 12, which is a dynamic defragmenter software program. See all: PC Advisor software downloads.
Condusiv Diskeeper 12 Home's defragmentation process goes on all the time, in the background, with the aim to ensure files on your PC or laptop never become fragmented in the first place. See also: Does PC speed boost software work?
Fragmentation can come about when files are saved to a hard drive, but don't fit in a single space. The most obvious reason for this is when a file is edited and more data is added – more words or numbers added to a text or spreadsheet document, or extra processing performed on a graphic or photo. Rather than take a whole virgin section of disk space, known as contiguous data, the filing system breaks the file up into fragments and stores them in two or more places, recording links within the file system so it knows where to go to reassemble the file next time it's loaded.
A heavily fragmented disk will be slower, so you should notice a speed increase after you've run a defragmenter. In the longer term, the hard drive may last longer, as there are fewer head movements.
In Condusiv Diskeeper 12 Home's case, the drive shouldn't slow down at all, resulting in faster file loading, backup and AV scans.
The application is designed to install and forget, with very little set-up. You don't even need to run its manual defragmentation, although if you want to see immediate benefit, this is the quickest way to start. After that, the program sits in the background, working with the filing system to ensure future files aren't fragmented when they're saved in the first place.
The main control panel looks a little dumbed down, with big, bold icons giving only very general information. There's no display, for example, of the percentage of a drive that's fragmented when you perform an analysis as you see with most such programs, only descriptive terms like ‘little' and ‘moderate'.
New features in Condusiv Diskeeper Home
New features for version 12 include an alert mechanism for fragmentation and disk health, though we wonder why you would need a fragmantation alert if your drives are being continuously defragmented.
SMART disk monitoring is built into these alerts, though, so it's useful to know if a drive is predicted to be about to fail. There is also better historical reporting of the fragmentation the program has avoided.
We tried the program on two Windows 7 PCs, one lightly fragmented and the other quite severely so. On the healthier machine, it took 1 min 43 sec to rejoin 4178 fragments and there was a decrease in start-up time of 17 percent. Start up is a reasonable measure of file fragmentation, as it's when the most files are loaded into memory in one measurable period.
On the more heavily fragmented PC, Condusiv Diskeeper 12 took 45 minutes to complete a defragmentation of 8876 declared fragments. This resulted in a 47 percent start-up improvement, which is very worthwhile. Starting Outlook was also 45 percent quicker. The improvements we saw shouldn't degrade over time, as the program continues to keep files intact in contiguous runs.
To assess if Condusiv Diskeeper 12 Home has much effect on system speed, we duplicated a 10GB folder of mixed-size files and recorded the time taken, with and without the software running. The difference amounted to 4 seconds difference over a 10 minute copy time, suggesting minimal impact.