AVSIM Commercial Utility Review

DiskTrix

UltimateDefrag 2008

Product Information

Publisher: DiskTrix

Description: 32 bit/64 bit Operating System. Hard disk defragmentation program

Download Size:
2.96 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FS9/FSX
Reviewed by: Angelique van Campen AVSIM Staff Reviewer - Jun 14, 2008

Introduction

This time it's not really a MSFS add-on package but a hard disk defragmentation program and a totally different one than you’re used to. MSFS add-ons are nice, interesting and important but their performance partly depends on not just the programming quality of the vendors, but on an important part of hard disk file fragmentation.

Too many fragmented MSFS files reduce the loading time of MSFS and thus the performance. I know, this is a very simple explanation and not fully 100% right, but fragmented files are devastating and don’t forget the other part, the Windows operating system itself. Flight Simulator defragmented files, apart from how they are placed and positioned on your hard disk – are important to get a good, better or excellent performance. Don’t forget, MSFS runs based on a good defragmented version of Windows XP or Vista, irrespective if you use the 32- or 64 bit operating system.

I would like to start first with one thing. This review doesn’t compare UltimateDefrag 2008 from DiskTrix with other known defragmentation programs like Diskeeper Professional or Pro Premier 2008, O&O Defrag Version 10 or Raxco PerfectDisk 2008 Professional. However, I will compare it with the default Windows XP defragmentation program, which is by the way, a limited/simplified version of the Diskeeper one. The reason that I’m not comparing it with the other previously mentioned ones is because I don’t know all the “ins and outs” of these defragmentation programs.

In this review we will see that certain possibilities are unique – as far as I know – and not seen with other defragmentation programs. Based on my experiences and the defragmentation programs you’re using, you should be able to judge if UltimateDefrag 2008 from DiskTrix is a for you.

A quick look to the main panel of UltimateDefrag 2008 shows us - compared to all the other defragmentation programs – a totally different graphical presentation of the hard disk. Normally those are square areas with files and directories presented, but DiskTrix has chosen a more natural way, a platter. The same as your hard disk, round with the files/directories running from the outer tracks of the platter to the inner tracks. Ok, the graphical presentation only represents one circle or one hard disk platter, while a real PATA (Parallel AT Attachment), SATA (Serial AT Attachment) or SCSI hard disk consists of concentric platters above each other. More then one platter depends on many things and one of them is the size of the hard disk.

Let’s first highlight some items from the DiskTrix website, manufacturer of UltimateDefrag 2008.

Optimizer: Defrag and Optimize Your Hard Drive - Any Way You Want! And Achieve Hard Drive Performance Over 300% Faster Than Manufacturers Quoted Average Drive Performance.

If you run complex games, simulations and applications or if you simply use your computer for everyday regular use, UltimateDefrag significantly reduces the effect of the main performance bottleneck of your PC, your hard drive. It gives you the capability to place your files and applications in the position on your hard drive that will give you the best performance possible.

Ordinary defraggers are a dime a dozen. UltimateDefrag is NOT just a defragger. It's totally unique software that is both a defragger AND a file placement optimizer.

UltimateDefrag is the ultimate defragger and File Placement Optimizer. Defragging hard drives helps to restore your hard drive performance.

File placement optimizing on the other hand, boosts your theoretical hard drive file access performance by up to 300% of manufacturers quoted averages (typical performance increase you'll experience is between 25 and 100%) by placing the files you want performance from onto the faster performing (outer tracks) areas of your hard drive. With UltimateDefrag, you can specify which individual files, programs or games you want the best performance from. The "Archive" function places all of your unused files out of the way and onto the slower performing areas of your hard drive.

UltimateDefrag is the world's most powerful defragger in terms of the file placement flexibility it gives you for defragging and strategically placing files on your hard drive - right down to the individual file level. It is the only product in the world that actually acts to boost your hard drive performance beyond average quoted performance.

That’s not all. There’s much more on the website. For the moment, it’s more then enough. As a regular defrag user, initially with Diskeeper products, then Raxco PerfectDisk 2008, it’s now my turn to check if UltimateDrefrag 2008 from DiskTrix. It’s really so much different then all the other defraggers and it seems to me much more powerful. One thing is for sure; you are able to control individual files/directories by placing them on specific locations on the hard disk. Ok, you’re not able to put a files or files in a specific cluster/block, but you’re able to place hardly used files on the inner tracks (archive area) of your hard disk and frequently used files/directories on the outer (high performance) tracks.

But what the heck is the archive are and performance area? Don’t worry… I’ll try to explain all those things … oh my god, where should I start … and hopefully I’ve convinced you that UltimateDefrag2008 is a 100% competitor of the well known big defraggers. As usual, big name and brands doesn’t mean automatically that they are good or flexible to handle. It seems that this defragger is very flexible in use, when you don’t know anything about it, don’t worry, there’s also an automatic option that balances between flexibility and performance. Let’s quickly start.

Installation, documentation and back to school

Installation

No Flight1 or Just Flight wrapper, just the basic one from DiskTrix itself. It’s a very small program and small means not even 3Mb. It also means that after the installation, it hardly needs any disk space and it uses limited resources.

Looking on your desktop, we’ve got a new shortcut named “UltimateDefrag 2008”. Apart from this, you will find under the Start menu button, a new created shortcut folder: Disktrix -> UltimateDefrag 2008. This contains:
- Revision Notes
A small text document with last incoming notes,
- Acrobat UltimateDefrag Help document.
More about this later in the Documentation sub-chapter,
- UltimateDefrag 2008 program icon itself,
- Uninstall UltimateDefrag 2008 icon, which is self explanitory.

That’s it. Oh yes, one thing more and that’s the activation process.

What do you want?

Activation choices

Entering the necessary data

Before you can use UltimateDefrag 2008, an online activation process is started or if the PC doesn’t have an Internet connection, a second PC can be used for this. Although the screenshots are not visualizing the complete process, it gives a good idea of the easy way of going. You want to evaluate it first? You’ve got 14 days to find out its power.


The program is very well protected against piracy and because of this phenomenon you need to activate it online. You can even see how many activations are left. Indeed, you’re reading it correct! Don’t worry, you’ve got a total of 10 activation possibilities and when you’ve reached this limit, you need to contact Support to get it reactivated. It doesn’t go that easy since you need to prove that you’re the owner of the program. The other thing I want to bring to your attention, is the fact that UltimateDefrag 2008 is not only working with Windows XP and Vista, but it can also be used on Window Server systems like Server 2003 and 2008. You’re probably not familiar with Windows Server, but with most of the competitors, there’s a special program/license when using it on server operated systems.

Documentation

Awesome. Not a direct word to start this with, but I really mean it. The manual is split into different chapters; generally we can say that the first part deals with some background information of how files and directories are stored on your hard disk but more important, what happens when a file becomes fragmented. Since we all prefer to read and see something, the manual also comes with the necessary screenshots of hard disk lay-outs. Unless you’re a professional hard disk specialist, I think it’s very important to take the necessary time to read it. Clearly it can be seen that the manual is written with love and the writer/developer – Robert Ferraro – has put a lot of time and effort into it, so please use it and learn a little more about fragmented and defragment files and directories.

Just a few screenshots from the 47 pages UltimateDefrag 2008 manual.
Up to and including page 23, you’ll find lots of pictures with well didactical supported text, which makes life easier and nice to read. Apart of this and the importance of reading the manual, I think it’s a better idea to print out the manual, grab a cup of coffee, relax and sit back with this tiny but comprehensive manual in your hands.

Back to the manual: the introduction part and hard disk operation including file and directory storage is important to understand the different idea of how UltimateDefrag 2008 works. After this introduction part, there’s a general description of the program's functionality, adjustments and other things including some examples in relation to certain programs to get the best performance. Later in this review, I will give you an example based on – hopefully – MSFS configurations and start-up times of FS9. Since I’m testing the software on my notebook, I’m not able to test FSX startup improvement times but I think the FS9 improvements are representative for FSX.

Back to school …. PATA, SATA, IDE, EIDE, SCSI, S.M.A.R.T. and fragmented files

There’s so much information available about hard disk technology including the history of this PC hardware. So much so, that it was not that easy to make a compilation of it, but I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible that you’ve got a little history about hard disk. You’re probably thinking ... hard disk history ... but the review is about a disk defragmentation program? Indeed, that’s true but to understand how a defragmentation program works, it's essential to have some idea and background information about hard disks in general, so here we go.

IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) is a hardware interface widely used to connect hard disks, optical discs and tape drives to a PC. Introduced in 1986 with 20MB of storage, capacities increased a thousand fold in less than two decades. Compared to the SCSI interface, IDE has been the more economical choice. The IDE interface is officially the AT Attachment (ATA) specification, and "IDE drives" and "ATA drives" are synonymous. The name came from the IBM PC/AT, which was the first PC to use the drives.

The controller electronics are built into the IDE drive itself, requiring a simple circuit in the PC for connection. IDE drives were attached to earlier PCs using an IDE host adapter card. Subsequently, two Enhanced IDE (EIDE) sockets were built onto the motherboard, with each socket connecting two drives via a 40-pin ribbon cable for CD-ROMs and similar devices and an 80-wire cable for fast hard disks. IDE drives are configured as master and slave. Jumper pins on the drive itself are used to set up the first drive on the cable as master and the second one, if present, as a slave. The ATAPI (ATA Packet Interface) was developed to allow CD-ROM drives to run over the IDE/ATA interface by using commands similar to SCSI drives. ATAPI is essentially ATA for peripherals such as CD-ROMs, DVDs and tapes.

The ATA Numbers - As improvements were made to the IDE/ATA interface, a new version number was added. ATA-2 (Fast ATA) defined the faster transfer rates used in Enhanced IDE (EIDE). ATA-3 added interface improvements, including the ability to report potential problems (S.M.A.R.T. = Self Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology).

Starting with ATA-4, either the word "Ultra" or the transfer rate was added to the name in various combinations. For example, at 33 MBytes/sec, terms such as Ultra ATA and ATA-33 have been used. In addition, Ultra ATA-33, DMA-33 and Ultra DMA-33 are also found. Following are the transfer rates for the various ATA modes.

SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) is a hardware interface that allows for the connection of up to 15 peripheral devices to a single PCI board called a "SCSI host adapter" that plugs into the motherboard or is fitted as a piece of the motherboard. SCSI uses a bus structure and functions like a mini-LAN connecting 16 devices, but the host adapter counts as one device. SCSI allows any two devices to communicate at one time (host to peripheral, peripheral to peripheral). Host adapters are also available with two controllers that support up to 30 peripherals. Introduced in 1986 and originally developed by Shugart Associates, SCSI is widely used in servers, mainframes and storage area networks (SANs) but can be found in workstations too, like my own PC.

File System Fragmentation

Although the manual offers you much more, you haven’t bought the program, you don’t have the manual, so some background information of file system fragmentation is not a bad idea, so here we go.

In computing, file system fragmentation, sometimes called file system aging, is the inability of a file system to lay out related data sequentially (contiguously), an inherent phenomenon in storage-backed file systems that allow in-place modification of their contents. It is a special case of data fragmentation. File system fragmentation increases disk head movement or seeks, which are known to hinder throughput. The correction to existing fragmentation is to compress files and free space back into contiguous areas, a process called defragmentation.

When a file system is first initialized on a partition (the partition is formatted for the file system), the entire space allotted is more or less empty. This means that the allocator algorithm is completely free to position newly created files anywhere on the disk. For some time after creation, files on the file system can be laid out near-optimally. When the operating system and applications are installed or other archives are unpacked, laying out separate files sequentially also means that related files are likely to be positioned close to each other.

However, as existing files are deleted or truncated, new regions of free space are created. When existing files are appended to, it is often impossible to resume the write exactly where the file used to end, as another file may already be allocated there — thus, a new fragment has to be allocated.

As time goes on, and the same factors are continuously present, free space as well as frequently appended files tend to fragment more. Shorter regions of free space also mean that the allocator is no longer able to allocate new files contiguously, and has to break them into fragments. This is especially true when the file system is more full — longer contiguous regions of free space are less likely to occur.

Note that the following is a simplification of an otherwise complicated subject. The method which is about to be explained has been the general practice for allocating files on disk and other random-access storage, for over 30 years. Some operating systems do not simply allocate files one after the other, and some use various methods to try to prevent fragmentation, but in general, sooner or later, for the reasons explained in the following explanation, fragmentation will occur as time goes by on any system where files are routinely deleted or expanded.

Consider the following scenario in relation with the image.

A new disk has had 5 files saved on it, named A, B, C, D and E, and each file is using 10 blocks of space (here the block size is unimportant.) As the free space is contiguous the files are located one after the other (see example 1 on the right).

If file B is deleted, a second region of 10 blocks of free space is created, and the disk becomes fragmented. The file system could defragment the disk immediately after a deletion, which would incur a severe performance penalty at unpredictable times, but in general the empty space is simply left there, marked in a table (MFT) as available for later use, then used again as needed (see example 2 on the right).

Now if a new file F requires 7 blocks of space, it can be placed into the first 7 blocks of the space formerly holding the file B, and the 3 blocks following it will remain available (see example 3 on the right). If another new file G is added, and needs only three blocks, it could then occupy the space after F and before C (see example 4 on the right).

If subsequently F needs to be expanded, since the space immediately following it is occupied, there are three options:
(1) add a new block somewhere else and indicate that F has a second extent,
(2) move files in the way of the expansion elsewhere, to allow F to remain contiguous; or
(3) move file F so it can be one contiguous file of the new, larger size.
The second option is probably impractical for performance reasons, as is the third when the file is very large. Indeed the third option is impossible when there is no single contiguous free space large enough to hold the new file. Thus the usual practice is simply to create an extent somewhere else and chain the new extent onto the old one (see example 5 on the right).

Material added to the end of file F would be part of the same extent. But if there is so much material that no room is available after the last extent, then another extent would have to be created, and so on, and so on. Eventually the file system has free segments in many places and some files may be spread over many extents. Access time for those files (or for all files) may become excessively long.

Is this all? No, lucky it isn’t. Therefore Robert Ferraro wrote a comprehensive manual for you with much more detail and it also explains the power of UltimateDefrag 2008, where flexibility of placing hardly used files and associated directories are achieved at a hard disk (HDD) position, which is very slow but more space is available for the performance part of the HDD, the outer track. With this small description I think it’s now time to start with the real UltimateDefrag 2008.

The defragmentation program "UltimateDefrag 2008"

Can you expect a complete comprehensive description of all the ins and outs of this defragmentation program? No, that takes too much space and on the other hand, basically the program is doing the same as all the others.

Hold on, that’s not the case! Although it can perform regular file and directory defragmentation, it can do more than that. The most important ones are discussed below and believe me, it’s worth waiting for! Together with the help of the necessary screenshots, I will try to explain a few things about this tiny defragmentation program.

Menu Items (located on the top)

On top of the main panel/window, you’ll find the following menu items; Defragmentation, View, Tools and Help.
Let’s first start with the easiest one, the Help item.
- It gives you direct access to the UltimateDefrag 2008 Acrobat document,
- A direct Internet link to the DiskTrix website,
- And finally the ‘About the program’. Not a very important item, except for the built version. You need this version-built number in case you need to update to a never 2.0.0.XX version. I wrote specifically 2.0.0.XX, since all updates starting with 2.0.0.XX are free of charge. Whenever a total new program is release, which starts with 3.X, then a small free must be paid.

Ok, back to the menu items. Menu item Defragmentation offers us the possibility to start a defragmentation, analyzing process and just exit the program. Some words about ‘a’ defragmentation. This is the same action as you can do by selecting a defragmentation right under the Options button on the main screen. Difficult? Not really since the Acrobat manual offers an extensive explanation of all the possible defragmentation methods.

The next menu item View offers to sub items; Hide when minimized (not impressive) and Volume View. For the last one – Volume View - this is something I’ve never seen before. It has nothing to do with the way of defragmentation, but you can adjust the view block size in relation to the amount of Mb’s and thus the amount of clusters per block. By zooming IN or OUT more or less blocks/clusters are visible in the circle. On the main screen right hand lower corner, the viewable size is visible is xxMb per block / clusters per block. In other words, depending on your disk size and how detailed you want to see the amount of Mb’s per block, you can zoom in and out. Very handy, but again, it has nothing to do with the quality of defragmentation.

Next and last item Tools; this menu item is divided into Schedule, Options and Highlight a file.
- Scheduling jobs is, I think, self explaining and when it isn’t, don’t worry since the manual offers you enough details about adding, editing and deleting defragmentation jobs,
- Options is not that easy to explain since this simple looking window offers the real power of UltimateDefrag 2008. In conjunction with the developer, we offer you – especially for MSFS users – a step-by-step procedure to get the highest performance out of this program. Not only the get the best performance for MSFS, but also to compete with other big defragmentation programs. Hold on … don’t expect that UltimateDefrag 2008 offers 200%, 100% or 75% quicker loading times than for example Diskeeper, O&O or PerfectDisk. When correctly tuned, it offers faster FS9/FSX loading times due to the flexibility of placing important files/directories on the outer edge of the hard disk and less important on the inner edge of the hard disk, thus preserving disk space for the High Performance files/directories.
- With highlight a file we are able to find the exact location of each file. As far as I can recall, I’ve never seen this with other defragmentation programs and not only that, it's also the easiest way you can do this. By clicking this menu item, it searches the whole disk for every file/folder and then this search process is done, it shows you a complete folder/file tree. By clicking a specific file from the tree, the related block/cluster blinks in white.
What is the use of this? It allows you to check where specific files are and judge by yourself if they are in the high performance area or not and that they need to be relocated to a different location.

Defragmentation menu items

View menu items

Tools menu items

Help menu items

Highlight File tree search option

Identifying a block/cluster contents

These screenshots show you a part of the friendly and realistic GUI (Graphical User interface) of a hard disk, also the possible top menu options. Specifically the last two lower screenshots are very handy when you want to know where a file or directory is positioned or where to look for it.


Oops, that’s a lot of information, but I hope it’s not that difficult. Before I continue, let’s give you an example related to Flight Simulation, since that’s the importance of this review.

Files within FS9/FSX are all important. One probably more than the other, but in general all files are needed to run FS9/FSX satisfactory. This directory and its sub folders need to be accessed quickly. Quick access – read loading times – is done when all folders are located on the High Performance area of the hard disk. This area is/are the outer track(s) of the hard disk. To have as much space as possible available here, we move, for example, Windows XP/Vista security updates and/or Service Pack data to a location on the hard disk which is slow. Remember, “this” data is infrequently or never accessed. The hard disk space located on the inner tracks is known as the Archive area.

By moving infrequently accessed data to this archive area, we create additional free space for the high performance files/folders. This is disk trix! You are able to manipulate files/folders to either the High Performance and/or Archive area. Don’t worry; the next chapter – hopefully - explains this with a real example.

Menu items (left hand side)

There are many menu items located on the left hand side of the main panel. As said before, I’m not going to highlight all items since most of them are self explanitory, except for a few which are very handy to know.

The yellow Options item will be partialy explained – the rest can be found in the manual - during the MSFS configuration because it allows us to manipulate between High Performance and Archive data. Directly below this yellow button you will find all the possible fragmentation options like fragmented file only, recently changed file/directories or even a simple one, the AUTO option, also known as OptiSeek technology.

Although it’s not the complete description of the GUI with all the left hand menu items, I’ll try to show you what can be expected. During an actual MSFS configuration, additional things are explained. For now, the GUI is refreshing, totally different then regular defragmentation programs but nonetheless, it's at least the same quality and speed. Due to the flexibility of moving files/directories to the Archive or High Performance areas, it's a big plus if you’re a power user.

Directly below this, you’re able to tell the defragmentation program how much system recourses may be used, selecting the slider between 100% and 10% in steps of 10 or just AUTO. Finally, there are the START and PAUSE buttons, which do not need any additional explanation.

Something which cannot be reached via a selector or knob, is the ability to see which files and directories are included in a block/cluster. This can be easily done by clicking “a” block on the hard disk platter. It highlights white and below the PAUSE button, a list appears with all files/directories in this cluster range. In the example, I’ve selected cluster range 0 -902 and clearly it can be seen that it starts with the $Boot part. Ok, all those details are not always important but with a simple click, you’ve got direct access to all available hard disk data.

With the end of this small chapter, I’m closing the main UltimateDefrag 2008 window. As mentioned before, it’s not a complete description of all the menu items since they're already explain in the manual. I know, you don’t have the manual yet but on the other hand, marking the specific highlights is important, as well as the possibility to place files on the High Performance and/or Archive areas. Together with the actual startup tests and increased loading times, it's either worth or not worth the money. So, let’s continue to the next part where the real testing is done!

MSFS configuration and test ride

Before I start with different test configurations on two computers, I want to make one thing clear. The tests are intended for MSFS users or games in general. That doesn’t mean that the program can’t do more then this. The same as with the other defraggers, it can be used for every kind of defragging job. Optimizing Windows in general, placing Windows in the High Performance area or special installed programs, preference for *.exe and/or *.dll files, or just doing regular defrag jobs. But don’t forget and I say it again, moving specific files/directories to the Archive and/or High Performance areas is unique. Either this option is used in combination with the AUTO option or is manually selected by the power user.

Introduction

For the test ride I use an IBM ThinkPad R50p with Flight Simulator 9.1, scenery enhancers, airport sceneries as well as add-on aircraft. Ok, let’s first quickly look at the IBM ThinkPad configuration; Pentium M 1.7Ghz CPU, 2Gb RAM, Graphics Chip ATI Mobility Fire GL T2 128Mb and standard non RAID EIDE 60Gb HDD, running on Windows XP Professional SP2.

Additionally, the Flight Simulator 9.1 configuration has Ultimate Terrain Europe, SimWings/Aerosoft airport sceneries from LFBO Plus, I installed the CLS DC-10 Series Collection, the Wilco Publishing A340-300 and Flight1’s Super 80 (DC-9-80).

Find here the following startup configurations:
Situation I – Flight1 Super DC-9-80, parked at a gate of Aerosoft's airport scenery EDDF,
Situation II - CLS DC-10, parked at a gate of Aerosoft's airport scenery LFMN
Situation III – Wilco Publishing Airbus A340-300 at Aerosoft's airport scenery LFPG.
Flight Simulator 9 conditions are CLEAR sky and 12:00 AM daylight.

For the first tests, I defraged my hard disk using the standard Windows XP Defrag program, which is by the way, a limited version of its big brother, Diskeeper. Once the UltimateDefrag 2008 defragmentation process is finished, I started my PC from scratch 5 times, and loaded FS9 with one of the three test situations (I, II or III). I didn’t reload FS9 after shutting it down since the measured FS9 startup is much faster than from scratch. This is because FS9, or parts of it, are still in the PC’s RAM. I used the freeware program TimeLeft to calculate the total startup time from the moment I click the FS9 shortcut until a configuration was fully loaded.

Windows XP default Defragmentation Program – Average Startup Times (Notebook IBM ThinkPad R50p)

Flight1 Super 80 at EDDF

CLS DC-10 at LFMN

Wilco A340-300 at LFPG

I – Flight1 Super DC-9-80 external view, parked at a gate of Aerosoft airport scenery EDDF -> 03:11 seconds,
II - CLS DC-10 VC cockpit view, parked at a gate of Aerosoft airport scenery LFMN -> 02:42 seconds,
III – Wilco Publishing Airbus A340-300 external view at Aerosoft airport scenery LFPG -> 02:54 seconds.

High Performance / Archive configuration

Don’t worry too much about the startup times. They are just for this PC under these conditions. What is important, is the comparison when DiskTrix will reorganize the location of the “High Performance” files.

When UltimateDefrag 2008 is finished with defragmentation, the startup times are suddenly “x%” less. It proves with this PC and non-RAID hard disk configuration, the effect of placing the complete Flight Simulator 9 (or FSX) on the outer tracks of the hard disk. So, please join me on the next trip, the installation, configuration and defragging of UltimateDefrag 2008.

Let’s have a look at the given advice from Robert Ferraro from DiskTrix. The goal is placing all the FS9 (FSX) to the High Performance area of the hard disk and - not necessarily - the archive data to the inner tracks by following these steps (also see the screenshots belonging to “Graphics presenting High Performance- and Archive steps” table):

Make the following selections from the Options menu:
High Performance part:
- Leave the Automatic box unchecked,
- Check the Custom box and Select the FS9 (FSX) directory to the left window,
- Select Strict placement (sorted)
Archive part:
- Leave Automatic unchecked,
- Check the Custom box and Select the Windows Security Updates and other backup data.
If you have idea leave this option/box unchecked,
- Leave Fast placement (consolidated) as it is.
Exclude Files:
- Leave Custom unchecked.
Leave Respect Layout.ini unchecked.

Continue from the main window by selecting the Consolidate menu. When selected, the options become active (blue highlighted).
Click the Option part. From the Consolidate Options windows tick the following items only:
- Respect high performance,
- Complete high performance then stop,
- Respect archive.

Finally click from the main window the Start button.

Ok, first the Archive defragmentation is started, if selected to do so, followed by the ‘high performance’ defragmentation. When monitoring this process, you can see that the Archive process is busy placing the selected directories on the inner tracks of the hard disk. After this, it starts with the High Performance process and there’s a problem!

Processing Archive
Since I selected to Archive Windows Security Updates and old Service Pack data, the requested data is placed on the inner tracks.

Processing high performance
The selected FS9 (FSX) files/directories are placed on the outer tracks, but unfortunately behind the $Logfile, before the pagefile.sys and after the MFT.

UltimateDefrag 2008 has finished Archive - and High Performance defragmentation but unfortunately it is not able to relocate the pagefile.sys and MFT. This results in having the FS9 (FSX) files not at the optimum location, which are the outer hard disk tracks.

As can be seen on the screenshots, the FS9 (FSX) files are not placed on the outer tracks but after the $Logfile, before the pagefile.sys and after the MFT. In other words, since we haven’t relocated these files – pagefile.sys and MFT – we are not able to place the FS9 (FSX) files on the outboard outer tracks. Since this won’t happen with UltimateDefrag 2008, we need to do a trick without using UltimateDefrag 2008 and that’s downloading – I know, it sounds ridicules but it’s the only way - the 30 days trail version of PerfectDisk. Probably other defragmentation programs can do the same but what we need to do is to perform an offline defragmentation where the pagefile.sys and MFT are relocated to another location on the hard disk. That will result in enough space for a contiguous High Performance area on your hard disk. You don’t believe me, just watch what happens next!

A note in relation to the offline defragmentation with PerfectDisk.
On page 44 of the manual item 5 “Does UltimateDefrag defrag my MFT and Page Files” we can read that the current UltimateDrefrag version is not able to this, but work is in progress and will be free of charge for registered users. The program can defrag the MFT during normal defrag options, but not offline. This means it’s not able to reposition the MFT to a different hard disk location like PerfectDisk can during an offline operation.
Once the MFT is moved during an offline job, you don’t need PerfectDisk anymore!

Select from the PerfectDisk menu “Disk Properties”. Tick from the Offline Defragmentation the Master File Table and Paging File

On the main panel tick behind the respective – here the C:\ - Boot Time. Here shown within the red square.

An analyze command shows a totally different lay-out. The Pagefile.sys is relocated while the MFT is dramatically reduced and also at another location.

With the same settings as you left UltimateDefrag 2008, you click the Start button again, as can be seen above.

UltimateDefrag 2008 is busy moving all the FS9 (FSX) files/directories to the now available High Performance area.

The High Performance defragmentation is finished and now it is as it should be. On the outer track cluster 1, FS9 (FSX) files/directories can be found here.

On the last screenshot, you can see that FS9 (FSX) files are now placed along the outer tracks of the hard disk. When this HP process is finished, the defragmentation is automatically stopped. Not strange, since we ordered it to do so!

Ok, we continue our DiskTrix story. Make the following selections in the Options menu:

High Performance part:
- Leave the Automatic box unchecked,
- Uncheck the Custom box,
- Leave Strict placement (sorted) as it is!
Archive part:
- Leave Automatic checked,
- Leave Custom unchecked or if you selected it before, uncheck it,
- Leave Fast placement (consolidated) as it is.
Exclude Files:
- Check Custom and select Files button,
- Tick the FS9 (FSX) directory out of the tree and Windows or backup directories, if selected before.
Leave Respect Layout.ini unchecked.

Continue from the main window by selecting the Consolidate menu:
Click the Option part. From the Consolidate Options windows check/uncheck the following:
- Leave Respect high performance checked,
- Uncheck Complete high performance then stop,
- Leave Respect archive checked.

Finally click from the main window the Start button.

The last UltimateDefrag 2008 run is taking place. All the remaining defragmented files (non High Performance or Archive ones) are put in place. Now it’s time to show you, with the help of screenshots, the previous described procedure ... more or less.

Graphics presenting High Performance- and Archive steps

Screenshot IV
Consolidate options selected and ticked the shown option for first run!

Screenshot V
Option menu Exclude Files selected and marked all previous directories.

Screenshot VI
Consolidate options selected and unchecked “Complete HP then stop before running for the second time.

Screenshot I
Option menu High Performance and Archive selections.

Screenshot II
“Select Files” knob HP selected and FS9 (FSX) directory located and moved to the LH window. Close via the OK button.

Screenshot III
“Select Files” knob Archive with several directories located and moved to the LH window. Close via the OK button.

The above six screenshots are not representing all the steps done to place all the necessary files/directories to the High Performance and Archive area, since it’s not a tutorial. On the other hand, together with the previous step-by-step procedures, it should give you a better idea of how to make the best settings by visualizing it.

Most important of all, what are the results and is it really worth buying this product or is it performing lower then expected?

First of all, don’t expect wonders. By wonders I mean, don’t expect that UltimateDefrag 2008 is 50% or more faster than its main competitors like PerfectDisk, Diskeeper or O&O. Those defragmentation programs also have all kinds of special defragmentation options, mostly through automatic options. However, UltimateDefrag 2008 really does offer faster loading times and offers the high end user much more flexibility, like placing high performance files/directories on a hard disk location where the performance is the best and it also allows the user to place hardly used files/directories to a unimportant ‘archive’ location, located on the inner tracks of the hard disk.

UltimateDefrag 2008 test run

Let’s have a look at the modified FS9 startup times when the hard disk is defragmented by UltimateDefrag 2008:

I – Flight1 Super DC-9-80, parked at a gate of Aerosoft airport scenery EDDF -> 02:54 (mm:ss) (˜ 8.6% faster),
II - CLS DC-10, parked at a gate of Aerosoft airport scenery LFMN -> 02:24 (mm:ss) (˜ 11.1% faster),
III – Wilco Publishing Airbus A340-300 at Aerosoft airport scenery LFPG -> 02:39 (mm:ss) (˜ 8.1% faster).

It seems to me that when more than just the default add-on aircraft, airports and/or other software is loaded, a higher difference is noticed between a regular defrag (default Windows XP) and DiskTrix defragmentation. Although the difference between setup I (Flight1 Super DC-9-80 plus EDDF scenery) doesn’t look impressive – 03:11 < - > 02:54, it is an increase of almost 8.6% and that's just by placing the FS9 (FSX) files/directories to the outer tracks.

Ok, so far so good. The figures are based on the default XP defragger compared with DiskTrix UltimateDefrag 2008. Since I’m still working with PerfectDisk 2008 Professional, I wanted to give it a shot and see for myself what the differences are between PerfectDisk and UltimateDefrag 2008. I ordered PerfectDisk to perform a SmartPlacement defragmentation including an offline defrag of the pagefile.sys and MFT. With this done, it’s time to check the startup times of the three created FS9 configurations. Here are the results after defragmentation via DiskTrix:

I – Flight1 Super DC-9-80, parked at a gate of Aerosoft airport scenery EDDF -> 02:53 seconds,
II - CLS DC-10, parked at a gate of Aerosoft airport scenery LFMN -> 02:24 seconds,
III – Wilco Publishing Airbus A340-300 at Aerosoft airport scenery LFPG -> 02:42 seconds.

The differences between SmartPlacement from PerfectDisk and UltimateDefrag 2008 are minor although UltimateDefrag offers much more flexibility and monitoring possibilities. Apart from that, it’s even cheaper than its direct competitor. For those who lost the overview, find below a table with all the different performances, tested on my IBM notebook.

Notebook IBM ThinkPad R50p (Intel Pentium M 1.7Ghz / 2Gb RAM / ATI Fire GL T2 / 60Gb EIDE ATA-133)
X% faster times in relation to the default (built in) Windows XP Professional Defragger
(xx:xx = mm:ss) Win XP Defrag UltimateDefrag 2008 PerfectDisk 2008
Flight1 Super DC-9-80 external view, parked at a gate of Aerosoft airport scenery EDDF 03:11 02:54 (8.6% faster) 02:53
Commercial Level Simulations DC-10 VC cockpit, parked at a gate of Aerosoft airport scenery LFMN 02:42 02:24 (11.0% faster) 02:24
Wilco Publishing Airbus A340-300, parked at Aerosoft airport scenery LFPG 02:54 02:39 (8.6% faster) 02:42

Another test … my Dell Precision

I thought testing UltimateDefrag 2008 on my IBM was enough, but for some reason I also wanted to test UltimateDefrag 2008 on my RAID-0 configuration fitted in my Dell Precision. It’s not that difficult except that FS9 and FSX are stored on the 2nd partition of the SCSI drives. To be exact on the D:\ drive and according to Roberto Ferraro, this isn’t the best solution. For the moment, we'll have to live with that since a complete reinstall is a little too much work for this review.

Here we go. One test was done while it was defragged by PerfectDisk 2008 Professional, while the second test was done with UltimateDefrag 2008.

Other important differences compared to my IBM are the totally different calculated startup time. These startup times are based on the moment I clicked a saved flight configuration in the FS9 “Select a Flight” window. All the FS9 conditions; CLEAR weather, daylight operations, add-on sceneries and aircraft including Ultimate Terrain software, are the same as during the IBM tests. The only thing that differs is the type of computer, including the hardware. Also, the Flight Simulation partition is probably not the best one since it's all on the D drive, which is the second partition of a much larger disk.

As can be read in the UltimateDefrag 2008 manual, it's better not to use partitioned disks and instead of this, use the High Performance defrag option of DiskTrix. My Dell PC is configured in this way and it was a little too much work to reinstall all the software just for this review. Ok, Dell specifications can be found in the "Test System box. I created the following FS9 Dell configurations and below that you will find the different startup times.

Situation I – Flight1 Super DC-9-80, parked at a gate of Aerosoft airport scenery EDDF -> 02:53 (mm:ss),
Situation II - CLS DC-10, parked at a gate of Aerosoft airport scenery LFMN -> 02:24 (mm:ss),
Situation III – Wilco Publishing Airbus A340-300 at Aerosoft airport scenery LFPG -> 02:42 (mm:ss).

PerfectDisk 2008 Professional (trail version) – Average Startup Times (Dell Precision Workstation 650)

Captain Sim 757 VC at KMIA

Captain Sim 757 at KBOS

Wilco A330-300 at EGLL

I – Captain Sim 757-200 VC cockpit, parked at a gate of FlyTampa airport scenery KMIA -> 01:15 (mm:ss),
II - Captain Sim 757 Freighter external view, parked at a gate of FlyTampa airport scenery KBOS -> 01:18 (mm:ss),
III – Wilco Publishing Airbus A330-200 external view at Aerosoft airport scenery EGLL -> 01:15 (mm:ss).

 

Dell Precision Workstation 650 (Dual Intel P4 Xeon 3.06Ghz / 4Gb RAM / 7800GS 512Mb / SCSI-320 RAID-0 340Gb)
X% faster times in relation to Raxco PerfectDisk 2008 using SmartPlacement
(xx:xx = mm:ss) PerfectDisk 2008 UltimateDefrag 2008
Captain Sim 757-200 VC cockpit, parked at a gate of FlyTampa airport scenery KMIA 01:15 01:12 (4.0% faster)
Captain Sim 757 Freighter external view, parked at a gate of FlyTampa airport scenery KBOS 01:18 01:14 (5.1% faster)
Wilco Publishing Airbus A330-200 external view, parked at Aerosoft airport scenery EGLL 01:15 01:10 (6.7% faster)

A final word about all these tests: I did test it not only during loading of FS9, but also during taxiing or flight. The only problem is how to compare this with the default Windows defragger or PerfectDisk 2008. You can expect the answer already; you can’t compare that since the environmental conditions are different. No, not clouds etc. since I can switch those OFF, but for the ground texture files it’s different. One or two miles “off track” from the previous test and with different textures loaded automatically results in different flight experiences. Because of these problems, I’m only offering you different static loading times, but those are generally good enough to judge the dynamic situations. Also, the fact that I didn’t use FSX, however, I think the times under FS9 are representative for FSX.

Summary / Closing Remarks

Test System

IBM ThinkPad R50p
Intel Pentium M 1.7Ghz
2Gb RAM DDR
ATI Mobility Fire GL T2
60Gb non-RAID HDD
Windows XP Professional SP2
FS9 with update 9.1

Dell Precision 650
Dual Intel P4 Xeon 3.06Ghz
4Gb RAM DDR 533Mhz
nVidia 7800GS+ 512Mb AGP
RAID-0 HDD’s - SCSI 340Gb
Windows XP Professional SP2
FS9 with update 9.1
FSX with SP1 + SP2

Test Time:
53 hours

The one and most important question that rises is, “is it worth buying this program” instead of PerfectDisk, Diskeeper, O&O or other payware/freeware defragmentation programs? I think it is for many reasons.

First of all, there’s minimum use of system resources, a very small downloaded program of no more then 3Mb (3.6Mb when installed), good price/quality and it offers much more flexibility than other defragmentation programs and above all, it gives better/faster FS9/FSX loading times. Remember what I said before, don’t expect performance increases of 50% or more, but together with all the previously mentioned items, it’s a very good deal!

UltimateDefrag 2008 offers a refreshing GUI (Graphical User Interface) with a totally different look than you’re used to from other defragmentation programs. Although it’s a personal opinion, I like this virtual platter more than the basic square hard disk representations of all the others, but it has nothing to do with if it’s working fine or not.

Experienced or not? UltimateDefrag 2008 offers lots of possible fragmentation processes. If you like using it manually, then go ahead, but if you don’t like that idea, then leave it all to the AUTO (OptiSeek technology) option while the program finds a good balance between performance and defragmentation speed. Since it’s an ordinary defragmentation program with much more flexibility for the experienced user, it's not only applicable for FS9 (FSX). It seems that this review is all about that, but this is only to show the power in relation to Flight Simulation or any other game. Not only games, but also other important programs you have, can be placed in the High Performance area.

As you can see, many things are possible with this tiny UltimateDefrag program. Currently while writing this, there’s a limited offer of just $29.96 (€17.48) until June 30 2008 (perhaps longer) and after this period the price goes back to $39.95 (€23.30).

A very important item and worth mentioning again; none of the competitors offer a free Windows Server defragmentation product. They offer it, but you need to pay additionally for it. Of course, it’s only applicable for those who have a Windows Server at home otherwise you don’t need it or may not even be interested in it.

One last item and that’s related to FPS (Frames Per Second) in relation to this defragmentation program or other defraggers. A well balanced defragged hard disk doesn’t help increasing your game's “frames per second”. It helps reduce loading times because the files are neatly placed together in a cluster. The drive’s heads do not have to go from the end to the beginning and back, thus not only reducing the overall loading times, but also increasing the life span of the drive due to less mechanical moves. It will probably reduce stutter while flying. By the way, this is not only dependent of a good defragged disk, since it also depends on many other things which are not covered here as that’s outside the scope of this review.

 

What I Like About Ultimate Defrag 2008

  • Good price/quality product
  • Very nice, fresh and more realistic hard disk interface
  • One program for all! That means you can use it for all 32 or 64 bit Windows XP, Vista and Windows Server 2003 or 2008 Operating Systems.
  • Comprehensive and at the same time, well written manual
  • Beginners can use the AUTO defragmentation option (OptiSeek technology) while advanced users can manipulate files/directories to the high performance and/or archive area of the hard disk
  • Actual file processing – progress, moving file and directory - visible during the defragmentation process
  • It works not only on single hard disk systems but also on RAID systems, irrespective for PATA, SATA or SCSI disks
  • The license and software offers you to install it on Windows XP and Vista PC’s as well as on Server Operating Systems like Windows 2003 and 2008.

 

What I Don't Like About Ultimate Defrag 2008

  • No offline defragmentation of the MFT (Main File Table) and Page Files is possible, but work is in progress and when it becomes available, it is free of charge of current 2.x.x users

 

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