Jun 21, 2010

iDefrag for Mac OS X: The best Defragmentation Utility - Ever


If you've ever used a Windows machine but have since converted to Mac and remember the "good 'ol days" of Windows 95, 95, ME, and XP and you did your own hard-disk maintenance then you undoubtedly remember the built-in disk defragmenter.  It's unique block-graph display mesmerized many a user who intently watched as those small individual colored-blocks were moved around the screen eventually being grouped together in same-color "cells" resulting in an optimized hard-drive.

Mac OS 8 and 9 had "Speed Disk" from Norton which in some iterations actually caused data corruption rather than giving an optimized hard-drive.  Later Tech Tool Pro for OS X gave offered it's Optimizer tool but until recently Mac users have never had a similar tool like Windows users did for defragging their systems.

Enter iDefrag from Coriolis Systems.  The user interface is very Win-defragmenter-ish with it's colored-block display showing the hard-drive data image and a Color Key identifier which defines what each color represents on the disk.  However unlike the Windows-based defragmenter and even the old Norton and Tech Tool offerings iDefrag offers a host of features that have no equal in the market.

iDefrag identifies and supports the "hot zone" in HFS volumes, it supports both journaled and non-journaled volumes, it has a thermal monitor to make sure your drive/s don't overheat and will stop the defrag process if things get too warm and, it has 4 different defrag routines from a simple-and-fast "online" defrag all the way to "Full Defrag" which takes the longest time but gives you the most possible defragmentation possible.

There are also deeper preferences for how the data is realigned and you can further tweak those options for an even more data-accurate defrag.

And with the CD Maker application also from Coriolis Systems you can also create a bootable DVD with iDefrag on-board which will allow you to *fully* defrag your OS drive since it will be unmounted.  That's something no Window's based defragger has done, to my knowledge.

But you're probably saying to yourself something like, "Mac OS X is much more efficient than Windows and doesn't require any defragmentation..." or something similar.  That's only a half-truth and in fact one of the biggest myths about Mac OS X is that you don't need to do any maintenance at all, and that's just not the case.  Any computer system regardless of platform or OS type requires routine maintenance to run properly and one of those tasks is to keep your main working drives from performance robbing and potentially instability causing deep fragmentation.

OS X is definitely more efficient at keeping large files from becoming fragmented but in now way is OS X fragmentation-free, not by a long shot.  Temporary, dyld shared cache, logs, user-cache, font cache and dozens of other types of files that are in constant use are being moved around the HDD all the time, not to mention whenever you install or delete an application things get moved around quite a bit.  And over time this causes... you guessed it:  Fragmentation.  The question of how often and which disks should get de-fragmented will be covered in my "How To" section of this website.


To date, iDefrag is the only Mac-based defragmentation routine that does it's job as well and with as many user-configured options than any other application I've ever seen or tested.  It's closest competitor - if you can call it that - would be the Optimization routine avaiable in Tech Tool Pro, but it's minimalistic interface and options don't come close to what's available from iDefrag.  And to top it off, in the 3 years I've been using iDefrag it has *never* caused any data corruption or any other problems on any of my Mac's both tower and laptop going back to OS 10.4 on a G5.

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