Defragging is one of those things – like doing the dishes or picking up the clothes off the floor – that you know you should get around to doing, but for some reason it’s so very difficult to find the time to do. There’s no doubt that it’s important. Tina explained why defragging is still important in her review of three useful defrag tools. Yet, still it’s one of those things that’s so easy to keep procrastinating about. Why is that?
The truth is that defragging just isn’t part of the regular scheduled “cleaning” for most users, even many of those who are diligent about running antivirus or anti-malware software on a regular basis. This may not be due to ignorance about the available tool in Windows, or laziness on the part of the user, but simple forgetfulness. One useful tool that can help by letting you set it up to run automatically on boot and never think about again, is UltraDefrag.
We’ve covered lists of defrag software in the past, but despite despite it getting mentioned a number of times by our readers in the comments section, we’ve never taken a very close look at this powerful and effective defragging software.
Keeping Your Hard Disk Healthy
For an old and lagging system suffering from what a tech geek friend of mine once called “bit-rot”, doing a nice thorough defrag of the hard drive can make a tremendous difference. Sometimes the performance improvement can be quite shocking. It’s so effective that most gamers turn to defragging the hard drive first when they’re looking for ways to tweak out the most performance improvements in their gaming systems.
Before getting to the method of automating the process, I’d like to cover why UltraDefrag is one of the best tools to pull the most performance out of your system. First of all, there’s both an install available or a portable version, so you can keep a copy on your thumb drive if you need it on a number of systems.
When you first launch UltraDefrag, it’s just an unassuming empty main screen filled with a whole bunch of tiny white boxes. If you stare at it long enough, it sorta turns into an optical illusion and makes you go a bit cross-eyed. So, before that can happen, open up the “Action” menu and take a look at the options available. I’ll go over each of the most important ones and what they can do for your system.
If you don’t have a lot of time to do a defrag right away, but you do want to see how much of an issue your system has with fragmentation, then click on the Analyze tool and let the app run through it’s quick analysis on the hard drive that you chose to review.
Defrag Results and Reporting
When it finishes, you’ll see an array of colored boxes where they were previously all white. Yes, it looks chaotic and confusing, but there’s a useful color-coded legend right at the bottom of the display. If you’re running this on an older system, you’ll likely see a whole lot of data on the drive, a small amount of white boxes (depending how much free space you have left), and then a bunch of individual blocks or small groups of red dots.
Those red dots are badness. Imagine like these are bookshelves in your own personal library, and the red areas are where someone placed one book of a book series out of place on some obscure shelf somewhere. Book II of the Lord of the Rings trilogy placed up into your shelf filled with recipe books, for example. It’s going to take you a lot longer to find that book than if it was sitting right next to Book I. To make things easier on your computer, go ahead and click on the “Action” menu, and click on Defragment.
When the process is done chugging away, you’ll see little or no red dots left. UltraDefrag has essentially sorted and organized all of your hard disk files so that they are most easily accessible by your CPU when it needs to retrieve them. In my case, my original fragmentation of 8.02% dropped right down to just 0.01%.
Pretty impressive actually. If you want to see what it did and why it couldn’t get you down to 0.0%, you can review the various move errors the software experienced by clicking on the little report icon in the top menu.
Finally, UlgraDefrag goes beyond just the defrag process and actually offers one of the most powerful tools that I’ve ever used to optimize the speed and efficiency of a hard drive. This is an optimization tool that’s available under the Action menu. You can click on Quick Optimization or Full Optimization.
Optimizing Your Hard Drive
What does “optimize” mean? UltraDefrag will do things like place smaller sized files closer together (making room for larger files that need big blocks of space), and also sorting files out based on their path location and other criteria. This basically allows your computer to retrieve data faster, with much less mechanical work, and it’ll even reduce the time it takes to launch applications. In my case, the optimization process took about 36 hours (I’m not kidding).
When it was finished, I did notice that applications launched more quickly, didn’t freeze up in the middle of processing photos or web pages anymore, and overall the system definitely felt a little bit faster.
Other Menu Options
If you do have to walk away from the process and really don’t want to leave your computer turned on all day after the optimization is done, you can choose “When done” from the Action menu, and then select the option you’d like for when the optimization or defragging is done – like shutting down or logging off.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you have a lot of control over the optimization process. If you click on the Settings menu, under sorting, you’ll see how the system is organizing your files. You can actually choose other options if you prefer. I’m not really sure of the benefits of organizing by file size or last access time rather than path, but if you have any reason to do so – you can!
Using Command Line Mode
For those of you that love a console rather than a graphical interface, then you’ll be happy to learn that when you install UltraDefrag, it automatically sets up “udefrag” in the path and places the executable in your system folder. From your command prompt, just type in “udefrag” and it’ll run UltraDefrag in command mode.
There are lots of parameters you can use. For example, above I issued the command to list all available drives. You can launch a drive analysis or a full defrag right from the command line. Another tool in UltraDefrag that can help with optimizing is optimizing MFT. This will place fragments of the master file table closer together on the drive.
As far as automating this – since there’s a console mode available, you can simply schedule a “udefrag” command to optimize your drive using Windows Task Scheduler. Just do a simple “udefrag C:” once a day, and you’ll keep the computer doctor away! The graphical tool also has an icon called “Boot time scan” that lets you enable or disable the option for the software to run and defrag your system every time the system boots.
As you can see, UltraDefrag is a powerful tool to keep your disk sorted and efficient. Don’t put it off! Plus, the performance increase you see will make your system run faster, and provide you with more time to do all of the other things that you love to do.
So, what do you use to keep your hard drive defragged? Do you use UltraDefrag, or some other free tool? Share your own insights and tips in the comments section below!