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BLOG: Fragging wonderful: The truth about defragging your SSD

Jon L. Jacobi | Sept. 6, 2013
With smarter file systems and faster disks and PCs, file fragmentation isn't the performance suck it once was.

To that end, I grabbed a fast 128GB, SATA 6-gigabits-per-second OCZ Vertex 4 SSD, ran CrystalDiskMark on it in its virgin state, and then used PassMark's Fragger and Joseph Cox's program (also called Fragger) to seriously fragment the drive. I again ran CrystalDiskMark, and saw a 10 percent drop in sequential read speed. That's a significant performance hit (although in real life you're not likely to notice the difference).

I then gave each program its chance to optimize the drive, using its own default settings. Between each test, I performed a secure erase on the SSD (which should erase all used cells) and then restored an image of the fragmentation.

The problem here is that there's no way to say whether the data in the image was actually distributed to the same cells. However, the level of reduced performance remained the same and, after a secure erase, increased back to nearly mint-condition level. I also tested the programs with the hardware they were meant to be used on: a standard hard drive.

To find out how the defraggers performed, see the results on the next page.

Auslogics Disk Defrag Pro
Auslogics' Disk Defrag Pro ($30; 30-day free trial) is a very capable defragger with a clean interface and multiple defragging options: simple defrag (no consolidation or optimization), SSD optimization, free-space optimization (defragging free clusters), and optimization by the Windows prefetch layout to make booting faster. The program also offers the option to defrag individual files and folders, as you can in Piriform's free Defraggler. This last feature can be useful for applications that require continuous fast access to files, such as video editors.

Disk Defrag Pro did a very nice job in my hard-drive tests, handling my superfragmented partition and other chores with ease. However, the SSD optimization did basically nothing and stated so after the fact. After defragging, CrystalDiskMark reported a slight increase in performance, but it was likely due to the drive performing garbage collection.

Disk Defrag Pro has its own scheduler and a host of advanced management features, but it has no background process to prevent fragmented writes as do Diskeeper and PerfectDisk. That omission is not really a problem on the average system, though. Fragmented writes with NTFS (Windows NT's file system) are relatively rare unless your drive is nearing capacity or being used in a busy server setup.

The program did have one disturbing trait. Occasionally on program boot, I could hear the read/write head on my hard drive chattering—not a sound you want to hear. No other defragger I've ever used puts stress on a read/write head in this fashion. It happened only intermittently, but frequently enough to be disconcerting.

 

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