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PerfectDisk 2000 5.0 review:

PerfectDisk 2000 5.0

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The Good Defragments in a single pass; built-in scheduling is easy to use; runs over a network.

The Bad Expensive; slow.

The Bottom Line Although PerfectDisk 2000 5.0 does a thorough job defragmenting hard drives and offers some excellent features, Microsoft's free utility should suffice for most users.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.0 Overall

Review Sections

It's a fact of computing life: hard disks become fragmented. Although Windows comes with the free Disk Defragmenter utility, you can buy a better defragger. For $44, PerfectDisk 2000 5.0 lets you schedule defrags, defragment only system files, and run the process over a network. The software takes its time to defragment all in one pass, however, unlike the slightly more expensive Diskeeper, which incrementally defrags your hard drive while you work. Choose PerfectDisk if you want the best defragger for a one-shot job. But if you're feeling stingy, stick with Windows' free utility. It's a fact of computing life: hard disks become fragmented. Although Windows comes with the free Disk Defragmenter utility, you can buy a better defragger. For $44, PerfectDisk 2000 5.0 lets you schedule defrags, defragment only system files, and run the process over a network. The software takes its time to defragment all in one pass, however, unlike the slightly more expensive Diskeeper, which incrementally defrags your hard drive while you work. Choose PerfectDisk if you want the best defragger for a one-shot job. But if you're feeling stingy, stick with Windows' free utility.

Simple installation
PerfectDisk doesn't provide a printed manual, so you'll have to turn to a PDF file on the installation disc for guidance getting started. Thankfully, the install is easy, and the software's interface is largely self-explanatory--just click a drive on the drive list in PerfectDisk's left pane, then select Analyze to find out how fragmented the drive is or Defragment to initiate the defrag process. As the defrag progresses, an easy-to-read grid of blocks shows PerfectDisk's progress.

Unlike Windows' basic defrag utility, PerfectDisk offers several extras. For one, the software can defragment multiple drives simultaneously. It can also start the defragmentation process on a networked drive if the remote system also has PerfectDisk installed. PerfectDisk's built-in scheduler makes it easy to automatically defragment drives at specified intervals, say, at night, when you're not using your machine. PerfectDisk can also defragment only key system files, including the Windows swap and hibernation files, by running the process at boot-up before Windows starts.

A slow and steady performer
In terms of performance, however, we found that PerfectDisk runs nearly twice as slow as Windows Disk Defragmenter. On our 500MHz Pentium III with 256MB of RAM, running Windows XP Professional, a 3GB disk partition took 40 minutes to defragment with PerfectDisk, as opposed to 19 minutes with the Windows defrag utility. We attribute this lag to PerfectDisk's unique defragmentation style. Unlike the Windows defrag utility, which leaves free space scattered across the disk, PerfectDisk consolidates free space into one large contiguous block, hopefully reducing fragmentation in the future. And, also contrary to the method used by Windows' defrag utility, which requires several passes to finish the job, PerfectDisk defragments the entire drive in a single pass.

Available technical support
Thankfully, PerfectDisk's online help is clear and comprehensive. The company's Web site offers extensive technical support, including a searchable knowledge base, FAQs, and a form for e-mail support. The $44 purchase price for a workstation ($219 for a server) comes with phone support on weekdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET.

Unlike its key competitor, Diskeeper, which runs in the background to incrementally defrag your hard drive, PerfectDisk excels at taking its time to completely defrag a hard drive in a single session, optimizing the placement of files in the process. Which approach is best depends more on personal preference than anything else. Choose PerfectDisk for a thorough, feature-filled approach but keep in mind Microsoft's own free option if you defrag only occasionally.

PerfectDisk 2000's straightforward interface shows the defragmentation progress in a multicolored display.

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