Long story short: This is not a defragmentation app you’d wanna use.
My experiences: Let’s see… I’ve got this XP media center with a 900-ish GB system drive on which I’ve thrown on a VMware machine with an 850 GB data partition. Before you say, “well, duh, you can’t defragment an 850 GB file!” (which anyway would be false, of course you can, it’s simple mathematics), this partition is split in 2 GB files. So, I’ve got 425 2GB files that needed defragmentation. So… I briefly fired up the built-in defragmentation tool in XP, but I quickly learned why it is I prefer not to use this defragmentation tool in the first place. It sucks, quite simply.
So, I remembered having tried O&O Defrag in the past, and I remembered it as a being a really good alternative to the MS implementation, so I Googled it and downloaded a 30-day trial version (bless those!) of the “Professional Edition” (what? a professional defragmenter? I’ve never seen a job ad for one of those). This was last Saturday.
I read up on the different defragmentation options, and seeing as a complete reorganization of all data on the drive doesn’t really make any sense when you just need to defragment fragmented files (kinda what the concept hints at), I thought I’d give the “Stealth” method a go. It apparently uses a limited amount of resources, and is aimed only at defragmenting fragmented files. So I fired up this “Stealth” defragmentation at 02:28:42 Sunday morning, and it “finished” (more like, gave up?) at 04:00:22 (report here), bringing down my fragmented files count from 431 to 395. As you can see, the (abbreviated) list of fragmented files range from 4,094 fragments to 76 fragments, and all the files are 2GB files from my VMware machine. Utterly useless, even though the status reads out, “Successful”. I beg to differ. You might even say that no task had been undertaken apart from 1½ hours of disk thrashing.
Okay, so I’d learnead something: The “Stealth” operation means “No” operation. So, still thinking that this O&O software might actually work, I thought I’d try another one, the “Space” method, which is the “other” method that doesn’t try to rearrange every single file on the drive, which is what – still – the definition of “defragmenting” must be – to make fragmented files unfragmented, not to rearrange unfragmented files.
Okay, so what happened? Again, not much. It started at 14:04:52, finished at 15:01:27, and left me with 392 fragmented files. The “Degree of fragmentation” (whatever that may mean) did go down from 93.92% to 93.199%, but somehow that just made me wonder what made O&O Defrag conclude that the operation – again – was “Successful” (report here).
You might want to note that on both these runs, the largest fragmented file was 2GB and the amount of free space on the drive was 51.9GB.
Okay… So I sighed… So far, at least the time spent had been minimal, so it wasn’t THAT bad. But, it appeared that I had to choose one of the “Complete” methods, i.e. I had to rearrange every file on this 900GB partition to get O&O Defrag to do the one and only thing it was supposed to do, namely defragment the fragmented files. “Stealth” and “Space” might have proven non-working, but one of these “Complete” methods MUST be able to defragment my drive, I thought. So I started a “Complete/name” defragmentation on my drive at 18:21:47 Sunday evening.
It “finished” 04:38:04 Thursday morning with an “Error: Not enough free space available on the drive.” message (report here). Still, the free space was 51.9GB and the largest file was 2GB. Also, you might argue that this was no news to O&O defrag, as the space when it finished was the same as when it began, so even if it needs more than 30 times the amount free space as the size of the largest file on the drive, it should be able to tell me this before. Good news was that in these four days it did succeed in bringing down my fragmented files count to just 60. Bad news was that I still had files with up to 584 fragments left, and O&O Defrag had chosen to bail out in the end.
Okay, okay, I thought. The documentation does state that it’s a good idea to start with a “Complete” defragmentation method, then revisit the drive in the future with one of either “Stealth” or “Space”, so I threw a “Stealth” at it at 07:51:42 Thursday morning. It finished two seconds later, and suffice to say, it didn’t really do anything (report here).
Great. So I was getting frustrated. And I no longer trusted in O&O Defrag. What do you do then? Well, I thought, better take the most fragmented files and move them to another drive. That is sure to defragment them, it will free up extra space, I can run O&O Defrag again with lots of free space (that oughta satisfy it, I thought) to make sure the free space is contiguous, and then move back the backed up files, which would result in them being (mostly) unfragmented. So be it, I moved 64GB of files to another drive, went to work, and on 08:34:51 Friday morning, I started a “Space” defragmentation on the drive that now had 116.3GB free, and went to work.
Returning from work in the afternoon, I discovered it had “succeeded” less than half an hour later (report here), AFAICT without touching ANY of the “important” files, i.e. my virtual machine data files. From a quarter to five in the afternoon till seven, I tried to get O&O to defragment just the fragmented files using either “Stealth” or “Space”, and specifically adding each of the fragmented files to the “Files that must be defragmented” list in settings. I even tried using Jobs to do my defragmentation, but no matter what, O&O refused to defragment the remaining 29 files which were widely scattered across the free drive space making it unfeasible to attempt moving back the files I’d moved away from the drive before to help O&O Defrag out by freeing more disk space.
Having already spent a week at this and feeling really broken down, I thought screw it, we’ll do another “Complete/Name” defragmentation and see what happens. This was started at 18:55:22 Friday night, and ran till 12:38:03 Sunday when it finished with an “Error: Not enough free space available on the drive.” message (report here). Note that this was with 116.5GB free space and the largest file on the drive being 2GB. It used 39 hours and 45 minutes rearranging files that WERE NOT FRAGMENTED, and the last 2 hours (I was watching it while working) actually defragmenting files, before failing and leaving me with this useless result, again with the free space contaminated with fragments of the yet-to-be-defragmented files, leaving me unable to move back my backed up files which I moved in the first place to help out O&O Defrag do the one and only thing it is supposed to, and claims to, do.
As I write this, I’m 3 minutes from having moved the rest of the fragmented files to a third drive (I had to borrow a drive to do this, mind you), and I believe I might just run Windows Defragmenter before moving them back. In any event, the next task is to open up Add/Remove Programs, find O&O Defrag Professional, and remove it.
I would recommend anyone to stay clear of this useless piece of software. There must be good defragmentation software out there, but believe me, this ain’t it.