Raxco PerfectDisk 12 Product Review

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I'm no newcomer to disk defragmentation software. I've used just about every major vendor's  product, and I've used almost all of the free products as well. For quite some time, a few years ago, I was very happy with the then current version of PerfectDisk, but for one reason or another (probably upgrading to a new PC) I left it behind. I'm happy to report that the latest version, Perfect Disk 12, is even better than the one I remember.

PerfectDisk 12 Professional offers:

● Centralized management and control
● Automatic notification of fragmentation issues
● Automatic background defragmentation
● Flexible scheduling options
● Patented advanced file placement technology

Raxco has been in the disk defragmentation business for a number of years, and has developed some very unique proprietary implementations of defragmentation algorithms. The one that stands out from the crowd is called SMARTPlacement.

The whole idea of a good disk defragmentation strategy is to get the drive defragmented with the proper placement algorithm for top performance, and then to have a way to keep it that way so that the amount of processing needed to keep the drive defragmented becomes minimal. This is exactly the approach Raxco takes with their OptiWrite and Auto-Optimization features. It's a more advanced and logical strategy than most competitors offer. Raxco's unique  SMARTPlacement, Opti-Write and Auto-Optimization features all work together to keep your system running at peak performance.

SMARTPlacement is a patented algorithm of Raxco Software and is used for the best placement of files on your disk to minimize refragmentation. Files are organized by their creation and modified dates. The theory is that files that have not changed recently are less likely to change in the future. These older files are grouped together so that once PerfectDisk has SMARTPlaced them, future defragmentation passes are less likely to move them again. This shortens the amount of time needed to keep the drive at peak performance. Also the free space is consolidated next to the newer files since these are more likely to change or be deleted. Consolidating the free space makes the creation of new files contiguous and therefore minimizes refragmentation of your drive.

SmartPlacement offers the following important features:

Improves user productivity by improving both disk read and write speed
Maintains faster boot times
Speeds up application launch times
Maximizes usable disk space
Automates disk maintenance
Prolongs system life

Opti-Write Technology
PerfectDisk's new OptiWrite technology, new in Version 12, prevents most fragmentation on drives before it occurs, which prevents degradation of system performance. OptiWrite detects when Windows is going to fragment files and intelligently redirects I/O so that most fragmentation does not occur. As a result, the need to utilize CPU and disk I/O resources to defragment files is greatly reduced. This also results in energy saved in CPU usage and in the reading from and writing to disks.

PerfectDisk offers automatic fragmentation prevention and will optimize your system when it isn’t busy. Users can select the desired automation settings in one location and PerfectDisk 12 will run in the background to keep all drives optimized and running at peak performance.

Short Stroke Method for Thin-Provisioned Environments
Raxco's new Short Stroke method improves optimization speed and improves support for Thin Provisioned drives:
Allows for optimization of thin provisioned disks without introducing excessive growth.
Works with the new Zero Fill pass in conjunction with thin persistent storage systems to reclaim up to 30% more storage.
Accelerate the optimization of large disk array by drastically shortening seek times for all electromechanical drive types and arrays.

Zero-Fill Free Space Saves Storage Space
Only PerfectDisk offers Zero-Fill free space capability that consolidates free space then zero-fills that space. When moving from a physical to virtual environment, zero-filling the free space after  optimization of the physical system saves storage space on the virtualized system. In a thinly-provisioned environment zero-filling a virtual machine after optimization and then compacting it gives you a smaller machine that uses less storage. This also allows for recovering of zero-filled free space when using one of the growing number of zero-detect SANs from HP/3PAR or HDS.  The bottom line is that PerfectDisk 12 provides the ability to work in virtual environments to eliminate host and guest I/O bottlenecks and resource contention.

Memory Usage
One of the things I look at carefully when using defragmentation software is the "memory footprint" of having its processes running on your system. During normal system operations, PerfectDisk 12 has PDAgent, PDEngine, and PDAgentS1 that can  be seen in Task Manager. Combined, these total only about 19,000K of memory, which is a considerably smaller memory footprint than other defragging software I have used. By contrast, my SQL Server instance when "at rest" uses  83,728K of memory - over four times as much as PerfectDisk.

Centralized Management and Control
Enterprise management of the PerfectDisk disk defragmentation software is provided by the PerfectDisk Enterprise Console. The Console can be used to deploy and configure PerfectDisk throughout the enterprise. Other capabilities include:

A digital dashboard that provides a visual overview of fragmentation issues in your enterprise

11 user-configurable reports including warnings and alerts with automatic email notifications

Network wide access to drive statistics for reports that track trends and system configurations

Configure PerfectDisk, including automatic disk defrag, to any combination of groups or individual computers with easy to follow wizards

The PerfectDisk GUI

The PerfectDisk GUI has five tabs:

Defragmentation Tab - shows the drive map and legend. Has buttons for Analyze, Start (with choices for defragmentation method), Stop, Pause, AutoShutdown, Defrag Select Files, Boot Time Defrag, Drive Preferences, Perfect Disk Log, and Global Settings. You can analyze a drive and you can even defragment specific files, or defragment the entire disk. You can include or exclude disks.

Stealth Patrol Tab - This tab offers unique Raxco features such as OptiWrite - which intercepts disk writes and actually prevents fragmentation before it happens with zero impact on system performance. Here you can also set Auto-Optimization, which works invisibly in the background to improve the performance of your system using either the automatic or the screensaver method. Automatic works only when your system is idle. You can even set a schedule of times when you do not want auto-optimization to work. OptiWrite and Stealth Patrol are new in PerfectDisk 12.

Scheduling Tab - Here you can set your preferred schedule for automatic defragmentation. For example, mine is set to the default of Sunday, weekly.

S.M.A.R.T. Tab - Provides a graphical dashboard displaying all your hard drive performance statistics and the temperature of your drive. S.M.A.R.T. Monitoring is new in PerfectDisk 12.

Dashboard Tab - A consolidated graphical view of all operations including counters, status, S.M.A.R.T and alerts.

Among many other features, PerfectDisk's Boot Time Defrag is very complete and defragments System files, Page file, Master File Table and other files that cannot be defragmented without exclusive access to the drive. This can be configured for one-time use or to run at every boot.  

Some defraggers do not offer this important feature, or only offer a limited version of it. PerfectDisk has the most extensive boot-time defragmentation algorithm I have seen in any such product. Proper and complete boot-time defragmentation is recommended by Microsoft (although it's built-in defag feature does not support it) and it can speed up system boot time by 10 percent.

Personal Experience
I found that PerfectDisk 12 installation was easy and simple, and so was setup. I ran a full defrag using the SMARTPlacement feature. My drive was not heavily fragmented to begin with, but I think that because of the different strategy used by SMARTPlacement, the first full pass took about 3 1/2 hours. I used the Auto-Shutdown feature so the PC shut itself off when defragmentation was done. The next morning I analyzed the drive again and ran a second pass, which took considerably less time. The reporting feature is great - it tells you everything that happened, when it happened, and how long it took. For use on a network where you may be defragging multiple PCs, this is extremely helpful. I also used the individual file defragmentation option to defragment a large SQL Server database file, and it worked great. Incidentally, the Analyze feature is faster than other products I have tried.

Additional Features
Raxco offers an extensive online knowledgebase, Frequently Asked Questions, printable User Guides, and even a built in self-diagnostics tool:

Right click on the Drive Map to view the contents of a block, visually identify and eliminate fragmentation with ease

Faster Analyze
Analyze a drive up to several hundred percent faster depending on your drive, number of files and file sizes.

New and improved space management reports
Comprehensive charts and graphs give you important information on your files and drives.

Enhanced large drive support
New algorithms ensure faster defrags for even the largest drives; and as always -- no extra cost, no matter how large the drive.

Enhanced Solid State Drive (SSD) support
Automatic detection of SSDs ensures these drives can be optimized for the best possible performance boost.

Enhanced StealthPatrol automatic background defrag
Optimizes drives faster and uses fewer resources than other defragmenters.

Enhanced VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service) support
Support VSS threshold configuration lets you set a unique threshold for VSS data.

Enhanced user interface
Improved graphics and layout make PerfectDisk easier to use than ever before.

Enhanced Selected Files Defrag
You can now select up to 100 files to defrag to save time and resources if you don't wish to defrag the entire drive; great for heavily used files.

New Dynamic Zone Engine
New in PerfectDisk 12 - Significantly reduces the overhead involved in processing all sizes of drives.

Command Processor
PerfectDisk 12 includes PDCmd <command> [<command-data>] [<command-flags>] [/c <computer-name>] command processor with a long list of command- line switches for Administrators.

Pre / Post Optimization Tasks
Allows PerfectDisk 12 to execute shell commands and scripts both prior to and post optimization. New in PerfectDisk 12.

PerfectDisk Pro User Community
The User Comminty is a busy forum-like feature where users can log in, ask questions, and get answers.

If you sum up the long list of unique features, the great performance, and the outstanding technical and community support offered, Raxco's PerfectDisk12 is the thumbs-up winner for me.

By Peter Bromberg   Popularity  (6776 Views)