Review of PerfectDisk 12 Home Server for Windows Home Server V1

Earlier in the week we announced the release of PerfectDisk 12, including the Windows Home Server versions. We then reviewed the Windows Home Server 2011 version. Here we review PerfectDisk 12 Home Server for Windows Home Server V1.

● Maximize streaming media performance
● Reduce back-up times
● Eliminate hard drive fragmentation
● Completely consolidate free space
● Bundles include PerfectDisk Professional for connected PCs

The main thing to note about PerfectDisk 12 Home Server for Windows Home Server V1 verses the Windows Home Server 2011 version is that the software is integrated into the Dashboard of WHS V1 (which is what you would expect of a WHS add-in). With Windows Home Server 2011. the PD12 application is a completely separate application so can only be accessed directly or via remote desktop. While this isn’t a major issue, it is just one more step to go through, so I am happy to see that it is integrated into V1!

Who Are Raxco?

From their website:

For over 30 years Raxco Software has developed award-winning defragmentation solutions and performance utilities that improve hard drive and server performance, simplify system administration and help our customers work more efficiently –at home and at the office.

Raxco has consistently been the first to support and receive certification on the latest Windows versions, including Windows 7, Vista, Windows Server 2008, and more. PerfectDisk’s innovations, such as the patented OptiWrite fragmentation prevention, patented SMARTPlacement optimization, Virtual Aware defragmentation for VMware’s vSphere/ESX Server and Microsoft’s Hyper-V, total free space consolidation, large drive support, Active Directory integration, single-pass defrag, and proactive enterprise console alerting and warning, continue to set the bar for the defrag market.

Why Do I Need It?

You might ask yourself why you would want to buy disk defragmentation software. Well the answer is that you may not want to. What do I mean by that? Well, put simply it is a matter of personal preference. Disk defragmentation software is one of those topics that often gets one of two similar responses – either “I must have it” or “I don’t want or need it”.

Personally I must have it. If you don’t know why you might want it, put simply, as files are stored, moved, deleted, updated and so on, over time they can be potentially stored on different areas of the disk rather than in a single block. This is called disk fragmentation. There could be thousands of parts of files scattered all over the disks on your home server. What this means is that it takes longer to read and write those files than it would do if they were all in the same place. That annoying delay waiting for that Word document to open? Could be disk fragmentation.

This is where disk defragmentation software comes into play. The software examines the disk and all of your files, figures out where the parts of the files physically on your drives are and attempts to move them together to make things run faster and smoother. This is a good thing – just imagine having hundreds of gigabytes of files scattered all over the disk.

What’s New?

Preconfigured to automatically optimize your digital life.

Optimize your entire Home Server environment so you can access your photos, music and videos quickly. PerfectDisk 12 Home Server speeds up processing times so your Home Server always runs like new.

Fragmentation Prevention with OptiWrite™

PerfectDisk’s new OptiWrite™ technology prevents most fragmentation on your drive before it occurs, which prevents your system from slowing down. OptiWrite™ detects when Windows is going to fragment files and intelligently redirects I/O to stop the fragmentation from occuring. System performance is maintained and the need to utilize CPU and Disk I/O resources to defragment files is greatly reduced. Because less defragmentation is needed, there is a direct benefit in the form of energy saved in both CPU usage and in the reading and writing to a disk. It saves users both in energy costs and in the time required to defragment a file system.

Intelligent Disk Optimization

For the limited fragmentation that can still occur, PerfectDisk’s patented SMARTPlacement optimization strategy optimizes disk drives according to your unique usage patterns. SMARTPlacement results in the most consolidated free space available, the elimination of most fragmentation before it occurs, and a reduced rate of fragmentation.

SSD Optimize is an optimization method for SSDs that focuses on free space consolidation without defragmentation of files. Solid State Drives are not affected by file fragmentation like traditional electromechanical disk drives. As such, it will leave files in a fragmented state while consolidating free space into large pieces.

Faster Start-Up

Experience faster system start-up times with our proprietary boot file optimization. Improve start-up time by 20% or more.

Auto-Optimization for Complete Unattended Optimization

PerfectDisk’s exclusive StealthPatrol™ tab is used to set automatic fragmentation prevention and optimize your system when it isn’t busy. Auto-optimization affords you the flexibility to optimize your system when it is idle or when the Windows screensaver is active. Auto-optimization provides the flexibility to not run during certain periods of the day or when a user-defined application is running. No other defrag or optimization utility proves this level of flexibility.

Advanced Boot Time Defrag

An important factor in faster PC performance is a thorough boot time defrag. PerfectDisk’s advanced boot time defrag capability is able to defragment files that otherwise would remain fragmented such as the Windows pagefile.sys or the file system’s MFT (Master File Table) and provides the best boot time defrag operation.

Total disk defragmentation and free space consolidation

PerfectDisk offers the most comprehensive solution for defragmentation by optimizing virtually every file on the system, including the Master File Table (MFT), all NTFS metadata files, paging files, directories, and datafiles, and completely consolidating free space. And it does it all in a single pass. There’s also a Selected Files Defrag option that is useful for defragmenting very large files such as video files, rather than defragmenting the entire drive.

S.M.A.R.T. Monitoring

New S.M.A.R.T. monitoring capabilities monitor the status of physical drives. It generates warnings and alerts for hardware performance and reliability, helping you ensure you are aware of any potential hardware problems.

CPU and I/O – control Resource Throttling

Perfectdisk provides resource throttling capabilities to manage resource usage as efficiently as possible. I/O throttling allows PerfectDisk to run on very busy disks without imposing additional load on the disk. CPU throttling allows you to raise or lower the CPU priority at which it runs. PerfectDisk uses very minimal CPU resources in its standard processing.

Installing PerfectDisk 12 Home Server Edition

Once you have obtained the PerfectDisk_x32.msi file, you need to copy it to your Windows Home Server add-ins directory.

You then install it just as you would any other add-in.

Then it is just a case of restarting the Windows Home Server Console.

Accessing PerfectDisk 12 Home Server Edition

You will notice the new PerfectDisk 12 tab along the top.

The first thing you will be presented with is the What’s New screen. You can uncheck the Show this screen on launch otherwise every time you will be presented with it, and frankly you only need to read it the one time.

You will also be asked to either enter your License Key or Continue the trial.

Now I installed PerfectDisk 12 on two separate Windows Home Server V1 boxes, and both times the What’s New window and the Welcome window were pushed down into the bottom right hand corner which meant that I had to drag them back up in order to be able to continue. I tried it twice to make sure it wasn’t a fluke with my server – it wasn’t. It’s not a big deal but it’s just annoying.

You will then see the PerfectDisk 12 Console screen:

From here you can see all your drives, their status, etc. and you can perform whatever functions you need to.

A Tour of PerfectDisk 12

Here are some of the settings and screens you can view:

You can easily set up a schedule for defragmentation – by default it is set to perform a weekly scan on a Sunday.

If you have S.M.A.R.T. capable drives you can see information as well.

There are numerous settings you can change.

And various drive options you can enable, such as optimisation of SSD drives and USB connected drives, which in the case of Windows Home Server would be useful!

Performing an analysis was very quick and easy, and I could see everything that was happening.

I could then view several detailed reports. This again is where I had an issue, and this is the same issue I have had with previous versions of PerfectDisk. And that is that it is really difficult to review the reports as they are squashed into a smaller window in the bottom of the console screen, which means you have to keep scrolling, only being able to view a few lines at a time, or part of a picture. Ok, you could save the report as a PDF, and then open it on your PC and review it, but that is yet another step you have to go through. The Windows Home Server 2011 version doesn’t suffer from this, mainly because it isn’t integrated into the Dashboard.

There was also a recommendation given to perform a Consolidate Free Space – so I accepted that and sat back and let PerfectDisk to its thing.

Now I just have to leave it running in the background and forget about it.

The Help files were pretty useful as well if you wanted more information.

Final Thoughts

Installing PD12 was very quick and simple. I loved that I really didn’t need to do any configuring of my server at all once it was installed. I just started a defrag, sat back, and let it get on with it.

There are plenty of options you can change and set if you wish, but I didn’t feel the need to.

Performing a scan was very quick, and performing my initial defrag was relatively quick. Performing a consolidate free space pass took longer, but that was the initial time of using it, so with PD12 sitting running in the background it shouldn’t take that long in the future.

The installation method we used in this review was to manually copy the add-in to the server and install that way. During the initial installation of the software, you could choose the Installation option from the program which should automatically find your Windows Home Server for you, and that worked fine, but most people are used to the normal add-in way. But it is nice to have that option.

I really liked that you get both the Windows Home Server V1 and WHS 2011 editions as part of the software, so if you run V1 now you won’t have to buy the WHS 2011 version later on if you make the leap to WHS 2011.

PerfectDisk 12 Home Server edition and Diskeeper 2011 are both available for Windows Home Server V1 (although Diskeeper 2011 is not available for WHS 2011 at this time). They both perform the same functions and both work very well, and they both cost the same.

Diskeeper has more detailed history reports if that is something you are interested in, but I would imagine for most people they wouldn’t really care just as long as the software was performing as advertised – which it does.

So, how to pick between them? Well, to be honest, I can’t really recommend one over the other. They both do the job very well, and very quickly. I would say, if you were on the fence and you had a previous version you could take advantage of the upgrade offer. Other than that it will come down to personal preference.

Price wise, it will depend on what you buy, For example if you just want the Home Server edition, its $39.99, or $19.99 if you have a previous version. Or for $69.99 you can get the Home Server edition and 3 licences of Professional for your home PCs. So it is a very competitive product.

Overall we gave it a 4/5 and a Recommended result. This is the same score we gave the Windows Home Server 2011 edition, but I have to say I preferred the 2011 edition to the V1 edition. Mainly because of the issues around viewing information in the small Console window. We still recommend it though because it is a very good product, and it is easy to use, and the price is very good.

Learn more about PerfectDisk 12 Home Server, including downloading a trial versionWhy not enter our UWHS giveaway to win 1 of 5 PerfectDisk 12 Home Server editions

7 COMMENTS

  1. John Zajdler
    Thanks for clearing things up about installation in your Final Thoughts, when I saw the 1st page, I thought you jumped ahead and missed a few steps. I like that they included S.M.A.R.T. in this build. I noticed that I could not find the option to allow me to open PD running on other PC's that was usually under the help tab in previous versions.
    • Andrew Edney
      thanks John I havent got PD12 running on anything than WHS right now, although I am in the process of installing it on one of my desktops, so I will see what I can find out.
  2. Comp1962
    I have been running PD11 on WHS v1 and just got around to installing PD12 today. Like John I like the S.M.A.R.T. function only at this time its only displaying the system drive but I am hopeful it will display the other drives as well. I am looking forward to see how the OptiWrite feature works out. As of yet I have not installed it on my WHS2011 server but will get around to it very soon. I am about to start building a new rig to run WHS2011 to replace the test unit so I do need to look at PD12 for WHS2011.