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MY EXPERIENCES WITH DISK OPTIMIZER

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               MY EXPERIENCES WITH DISK OPTIMIZER (tm)

          P. L. Olympia, Sysop Darwin I and II, 301-251-9206
                               11/29/85

Disk  Optimizer is a commercial product from Softlogic Solutions  that 
is intended to solve the problem of badly fragmented files on the hard 
disk.   It reorganizes both disk directories and file clusters.  Badly 
fragmented  files  cause delays in program loading or  execution,  and 
worse (in my opinion) unnecessary punishment on the disk drive.

Those of us who run very active bulletin boards know the problem quite
well.   It  doesn't  take  long for an upload subdirectory or  a  disk 
subdirectory  containing the BBS callers and messages files to  be  so 
badly  fragmented that it takes quite a wait for the BBS to locate the 
file  you  are trying to download.  Next time you're on  a  large  and 
active BBS, pull out your stopwatch and do some timing tests.

My  first  experience  with Disk Optimizer was nothing to  write  home 
about.   I first tried it on one of my BBS's small hard disk (10  Meg) 
and had to abort after 1.5 hours as there was absolutely no indication 
that  it was ever going to finish.  The lack of a program report as to 
what it is really doing at a given time didn't help things any.  After 
the abort I called up Mr. Norton and Mr. Chkdsk and found that most of 
the disk were indeed reorganized and "defragmentized".  But heck,  1.5 
hours  for a 10M is no joke - I could just as well backup with one  of 
the fast backup programs like DSBACKUP, delete and restore within that 
time.  I  decided to try again.  This time I tried it on the other 10M 
disk.  The result was worse. Not only did it take more than an hour (I 
had  to abort again),  I ended up with a lot of cross-linked  clusters 
and  two of my subdirectories became damaged.  It turned out that  the 
cross-linked  clusters and the resulting damage might have been my own 
doing as I had several hidden subdirectories on that disk.  No matter. 
I decided to return the package. Even if the program works, I wait for 
no one.

In the meantime,  my main BBS with a 33M hard disk was taking an awful 
lot  of  punishment  - callers who could not read  and  who  tried  to 
download  files  that were not even listed would inevitably  throw  my 
poor Tulin into a tizzy.   I sat there for two weeks listening to  the 
agonizing  disk  head  as it hopped from sector  to  sector.  And  all 
because I did not have the patience to go thru a backup/delete/restore 
of a 33M disk. 

Then my friendly dealer called to say that Softlogic has issued a  new 
version  (1.2).  I decided to give it another shot.  I tried it on the 
damaged  10M  (wiser now,  I unhid all the subdirectories  first)  and 
couldn't  believe that I was done in 19 minutes.  Mr.  Norton and  Mr. 
Chkdsk bore out the results of the ANALYZE program that came with  the 
package  - all files were 100% contiguous.  DBASE III took no time  at 
all  to  load and PCBoard (already a speed demon of  a  BBS  software)  
started  acting like a bat out of hell.  Now,  this was on a 10M  disk 
with  only 550K free space.   Still unconvinced,  I tried it on an  AT 
with  a 32M and 5M free that has never been reorganized for 8  months. 
The program did its job in 32 minutes. So far so good.

I  decided to push my luck.  I tried the program on the poor 33M Tulin 
with  2.3M left - an XT clone whose hard disk is as fragmented as  one 
can ever get with 2500+ files.   Before I did that,  I decided to play 
it  safe and backup the disk with FASTBACK.  Mr.  FASTBACK produced  a 
"fatal  error"  after 23 minutes on the 37th diskette.  No  amount  of 
coercing  will make it continue.  To heck with it  - another  software 
will  get  returned  tomorrow.  I  crossed my  fingers  and  ran  DISK 
OPTIMIZER  anyway  - I  had a few hours to kill while I  work  on  the 
Thanksgiving  turkey.  You'd think I was an expectant father while the 
optimizer was running.  For a long time, the machine seemed dead - the 
disk  light might flash every 5 minutes or so - and this was  just  in 
Part One - disk directory reorganization.  Many times, I came close to 
reaching for the Big Red switch but somehow resisted. I was determined 
to wait till Christmas for this one as I had absolutely no disk backup 
to speak of.  After 93 minutes,  the program said it was done. Indeed 
all  the usual checks said I had a perfectly organized disk - no files 
lost and no fragmented files.

And, that, is how I spent Thanksgiving '85.

Next  time you're on my BBS (before it gets fragmented again) and  you 
notice that it is fast - remember these:  (1) I am running two jobs at 
the  same  time via DoubleDos (I have thrown away MultiLink after  two 
years and 4 versions, each one slower than the previous one), (2) I am 
running  those on a "lowly" XT clone with absolutely nothing  produced 
by  Big Blue.   If the board seems fast it is because of  (1)  PCBoard 
which  is  the greatest BBS software in the  whole  wide  world today
(thank you Fred Clark, Dave Staehlin, et. al) and (2) Disk Optimizer. 


TIPS ON USING DISK OPTIMIZER
----------------------------

1.   Unhide   all   files   (other  than  IBMDOS   and   IBMBIO)   and 
     subdirectories before you begin

2.   Do  NOT run any memory-resident programs or multitasking or  disk 
     cache programs (Lightning is good but not now). Never, never have 
     DPATH or similar data and overlay finder active.

3.   In short,  run Disk Optimizer on a "Virgin" system with only  PC-
     DOS working.

4.   I ran the program on the AT and XT clones under DOS 2.0,  2.1 and 
     3.1 successfully but obviously cannot guarantee that it will work 
     for all cheapie disks like mine. That's Softlogic's work after all.


MY BEEF (or Turkey?)
--------------------

     You  all know that I seldom endorse a product 100% (only  Borland 
products  are  near  perfection in my opinion).  Alas,  I have  a  few 
suggestions to Softlogic. Forget about your copy-protection. A program 
should never be copy-protected,  least of all a disk utility  program. 
Also,  why don't you tell the Turkey holding his breath while watching 
a  machine that seems dead what's going on?  A few dots on the  screen 
once  in a while should be mighty reassuring.  Let me also say that  I 
love the price. Thank you for that.


CONCLUSION
----------

     Should  you  buy it?  I did,  didn't I?   You could do worse  for 
$49.95.  BUY IT.  This  program works.  It ain't turkey.  

     Happy  Thanksgiving, everybody!