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marcky reviewed on 01 Nov 2012
Contrary to some other reviewers, I have a real need for disk defragmenting. True, OS X tries to prevent file fragmentation in the first place, and does a reasonable job of that.

The problem for me is that I manipulate tens of millions of smaller files (eg email messages, source files), which results in *free space* becoming heavily (99%+) fragmented. Once this gets too bad, the OS has no choice but to heavily fragment larger newly written files, and the system tends to slow to a crawl, even when there is plenty of free space in the aggregate. I routinely see files with tens of thousands of fragments once I reach this "tipping point".

Defragmenting the free space is what I really want to do. I don't know of any product that makes this the primary goal, but it is the net after-effect of defragmenting and compacting the files on a drive.

When iDefrag works, it does a great job of defragmenting and optimizing a drive. I've had good success with it on smaller drives.

The issues I have are:

1) I've had it corrupt a number of drives with tens of millions of files and extended directories. Some of these were recoverable with Disk First Aid, some were damaged badly enough that DFA could not repair them. All were scanned by DFA prior to backing up and defragmenting. (The directories on these drives are too big for Disk Warrior to even scan, due to it's 32-bit Carbon-imposed 2GB address limitation.) Fortunately, I made full backups beforehand, as recommended., which brings me to…

2) Backing up all the files onto a blank drive will automatically defragment them and compact the drive as part of the copying process itself. If you are able to run of the destination drive (as I am in my Mac Pro), then you're done! (Your fragmented drive can then serve as your untouched safety backup.) Even if you need to format and copy all your files back onto your original drive, doing so is safer, and often faster, than running a full defrag on it.

3) On my larger drives, iDefrag would take 24-48 hours to do a full defrag. I rarely am able to let it run that long, uninterrupted. You can safely abort the compact algorithm partway through, but there is no way to "resume" it later. If anything has changed on the drive, iDefrag will essentially start compacting all over again and will require just as long to complete. If you're using the copying method, you can do it in smaller chunks, and still have access to most of your files while it's running.

Unfortunately for me, due to the risk of volume corruption, and the need to backup everything first, I rarely use iDefrag for anything but diagnostic purposes.
[Version 2.2.4]

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