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!