11 March, 2009

On the Download: Defrag, De Whole Frag, and Nothing but Defrag

Hold onto your propeller hats, team, I'm about to rhapsodize over a defragmentation program.

No! Wait! Don't click away from the page! I know that recommending a defragger is like recommending a dental floss. It's not exciting. It's not even interesting. It's tool for a chore, for goodness sake. But stick with me, here. I'm serious about this. If Smart Defragger 1.11 were a dental floss, it would keep your teeth shiny and your breath sweet and it wouldn't leave stringy bits between your molars. It's really that good.

So why bother talking about hard disk chores like defragging at all? Well, it's amazing how fast Windows and its applications frag up your hard disk. And you'd be surprised much faster a computer can run when you optimize a badly fragmented disk. And it's not only about speed: In the lab I was managing six years ago, heavily fragmented disks caused programs to crash and lose work for dozens of frustrated students. Defragging cured the problem right away.

That's why I have a two-step plan when anyone complains about how slow or flaky their system is running. First, fire up MSCONFIG and weed out all the dross that loads when you start up Windows. (Yes, Adobe Reader tray icon, Microsoft Office loader, and Real scheduler...I'm talking about you.)

Then defrag the disk.

The trouble is that Microsoft's Windows Defrag program is like the Victory brand goods in George Orwell's novel 1984: The only show in town, and pretty darn awful. The trouble is that nobody wants to pay extra to get decent third-party defragmenter, no matter how elegant and efficient it is.

So let's see whether I can persuade anyone to try out Smart Defrag 1.11. Put away your wallets. It's a free download, with no strings attached. If you want to toss a donation at IOware in gratitude, they'll take it. And they deserve it.

Smart Defrag is really darn good. It takes up almost no RAM, so it's good for old creaky systems as well as spanky new ones. It analyzes and defrags at a zippy pace on any Windows platform from 98 up. It can be scheduled to perform routine defragmentation at specific times of the day (say, lunchtime). And it can performa a deep optimize that organizes your hard disk's contents so that the most frequently used files are at the front of the line, ready to load fast.

It's also ridiculously simple to set up: Run it once. Set an automatic defrag time. Forget about it.

That's all, folks. Simple, free, and without fuss. And it won't let your system slow down over time or crash for no apparent reason. So do yourself a favor and get it.

And don't forget to floss.

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