Winternals Defrag Manager 4 review

£1168
Price when reviewed

For many years Diskeeper has been seen as the dominant disk defragger in the corporate market. But it’s by no means the only one. Winternals’ Defrag Manager has always offered stiff competition, and the latest version delivers even more features including Windows XP x64 support, improved HTML reporting and email alerting.

Winternals Defrag Manager 4 review

The biggest difference between Defrag Manager and Diskeeper is that the former doesn’t require a local copy of the software installed on every server and workstation that’s to be remotely managed. You can load Defrag Manager on one central system and clean up the network without installing it again. Defrag Manager achieves this by automatically loading an agent on each system at runtime and then removing it afterwards. You’ll need File and Print Sharing enabled for this to work, otherwise the agent must be preinstalled. Conversely, Diskeeper Corporation offers a separate Administrator utility that deploys and manages the Server and Workstation versions of Diskeeper but can’t access network systems that don’t have one of these versions installed.

We tested Defrag Manager on a Windows Server 2003 domain controller running Active Directory with all test clients logged in as domain members. The main interface offers a simple Internet Explorer-style tree providing easy access to all functions. Schedules determine how and when clients are defragged and you can specify daily, weekly or monthly intervals, specific times, one-off runs or automatic operation at system startup. Jobs can be automatically started when a system has been idle for a set period, three priorities used to limit the impact on the system and you can block local access. Tasks on multiple volumes can be run in parallel, and the Windows paging file and Registry hive can be cleaned up when the client is next booted.

Each schedule can include any number of clients, and configuration is made even easier as complete domains and workgroups can be dragged and dropped onto a schedule. A feature called SmartBind ensures any changes to Active Directory domains, such as systems being deleted, will be applied to all relevant schedules. The Advanced Mode CD is a new feature that produces an ISO image used to create a bootable CD for locally defragging a system. The utility will also offer to burn a disk for you, or the image can be copied to another system with a suitable drive installed. The utility provides a single interface from where you can defrag all your disks in parallel, consolidate free space, run CHKDSK and reboot or shutdown the system.

For performance testing, we set Defrag Manager against Diskeeper Server Edition 9 and used an 8GB system partition on a Windows Server 2003 system that was heavily fragmented. We created a disk image of it first and then loaded Diskeeper, asked it to clean up the partition and watched it take 12 minutes, 30 seconds to complete this. The volume was then reinstated to its original condition, and from the Defrag Manager console we created a schedule to defrag the partition with normal priority and saw it complete the same task in just under six minutes.

Diskeeper wins out on sheer features but it’s clear Defrag Manager is a lot more nimble. It’s much easier to install and compares well on price, making it a very solid choice for centrally administered disk cleanups.

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