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defrag.gif If you’ve owned a PC for a long period of time, you’ll know that eventually you need to defragment the hard drive. As you use the PC more and more, files become scattered across different folders and the system slows down as a result. Defragging may be a pain up the rear but it’s unfortunately a fact of life which you can’t escape from, if you want to continue installing programs, watching video files and listening to music. But there’s a school of thought that says that defragging is unnecessary. I’ll leave that for you to decide whether or not that argument has any merits.

To do a proper defrag, you need to use the built-in Windows defrag tool (which can be found in your start menu). But if you haven’t defragged for quite some time, that would mean that the Windows defrag tool will take hours to complete the job thoroughly (at the beginning, my defrag sessions would last 7 or 8 hours!) – and you can’t use the computer in the meantime. Now I often leave it running during the night while I am snoring away in bed and in the morning, the computer is ready to go again.

Out of the following free defrag tools, I prefer Auslogics, but always remember that these tools will not do a thorough defragging job. All they will do is generally keep your files in good shape and do a bit of defragmenting. The advantage to using them though is that when you finally run the proper Windows defrag tool, the time it takes to finish the job will be slashed by hours. I run Auslogics once a week and now the Windows defrag tool subsequently only takes 2 hours.

auslogicspartial.gifAuslogics – I mentioned Auslogics in a previous MakeUseOf article but I think it is the best of the free defrag tools out there so it merits a second mention.

Wincontig – WinContig is an easy-to-use stand-alone defragmentation tool that doesn’t create any installation directories or Registry entries on your computer. Its purpose is to quick defrag files without the need to defrag the whole disk. In addition, WinContig allows you to group files into profiles, and also it accepts a number of optional command-line switches that you can use to control how the program operates.

Contig – this one is also becoming a favourite. You operate it from the Windows command line and you use it to defrag a single file. It saves you having to fire up the Windows defrag application just to deal with one file.


PageDefrag – PageDefrag defrags your Windows page file, Registry hives, event log files and hibernation files. These are files that the built-in Windows defragger is unable to defragment since they are open for exclusive access when Windows is running. PageDefrag is a boot-time defragmentation utility which means it will re-boot your computer then defrag these areas before it allows Windows to start up again. So don’t start this program if you’re in the middle of anything important!

DefragMentor Lite CL – with this program, you can defragment a single file or a group of files as well as to obtain information on file and disk fragmentation.

I’ve only skimmed the surface here regarding defragging tools, so I’d appreciate hearing from you. What defrag tools do you use? Do you think computers should be defragged or is the whole defragging thing a complete waste of time?

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  1. swarfega
    January 12, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Slight inaccuracy with your description of the fragmention process. Fragmented files dont get scattered across various folders, thats not possible. Instead they get scattered across several sectors on the hard drive, making the journey that the head has to travel longer than is necessary, hence the need to defrag to return the file to its contiguous length.

  2. Sally
    December 7, 2009 at 6:29 am

    Thanks for the article. Auslogics is the best! Especially since they've released version 3 ( Now it properly defrags the files and free space as well. Good job Auslogics!

  3. lifeh2o
    April 13, 2009 at 12:06 am

    "JKDefrage" is the best and portable small freeware

  4. Joep
    March 9, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    DiskTune is an easy to use, on-demand, no frills disk optimizer and defragmentation utility for FAT, FAT32 and NTFS formatted drives. Through a simple to use mechanism to create `jobs` it enables you to launch one-click jobs and schedule jobs. DiskTune is freeware. DiskTune will reorganize your disk and will make it faster and more responsive.

  5. TechMalaya
    October 27, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    for file based defragmentation, you can try piriform defraggler

    instant defragmentation at its best.

  6. Ryan
    October 25, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    You should try O&O Defrag -- that's my current personal favorite.

  7. Donn Edwards
    October 22, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    There are better free defrag utilities than the ones mentioned here. In "The Great Defrag Shootout" you can find reviews of 16 commercial and 15 free defrag utilities. One of the "winners" is JkDefrag 3.26, and when used in combination with PageDefrag and the JkDefrag GUI, provides a much better alternative to the built-in Windows Defragmenter, and knocks the socks off many commercial utilities such as Diskeeper.

    The best commercial defrag utility I found is PerfectDisk, and if you like the minimalist approach taken by Vista, the PuranDefrag 3 is going to be hard to beat.

  8. Jack Sparrow
    October 22, 2007 at 7:49 am

    I use Diskeeper 2007, and although it is not free like the programs listed above, it does a great job in defragging my 3 drives quickly and reliably. It also comes with an excellent automatic defrag mode and the ability to defrag (and resize) the MFT and paging files during a boot-time defrag. The only defragger I need.

    • Aibek
      October 22, 2007 at 8:50 am

      PageDefrag does those things as well.

      • Jack Sparrow
        October 22, 2007 at 10:24 am

        Does pagedefrag defragment the MFT too? I could be wrong, but I don't think it defrags the MFT. I was under the impression that there is no single freeware tool that does everything the commercial defraggers do. I stand corrected if it does indeed defrag the MFT.

        • Aibek
          October 22, 2007 at 11:25 am

          My bad, PD Defragments only registry and paging files but I am not really sure abt the rest. It's just MF Tables on my system seem to be in a pretty good shape so I assumed it's due to one of the installed utilities.

  9. Jon
    October 22, 2007 at 7:41 am

    I completely agree about the Auslogics defragger. I wrote up an (non-paid) article on it because I couldn't believe how much faster it was than the standard Windows defragmenter.

  10. jimbo
    October 20, 2007 at 6:34 pm
  11. Carlo
    October 20, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    JkDefrag is another tool to consider.

    • Zia
      October 22, 2007 at 8:01 am

      Agreed, JkDefrag is superb

      • Aibek
        October 22, 2007 at 9:05 am

        Just got it on my system. JkDefrag needs a serious interface redesign, looks like a native Win 93 application. Although when it comes to defragmentation speed, definitely tops most of the alternative programs.

  12. Aibek
    October 20, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    I have been using PageDefrag for years now, definitely a must-have one.