Raxco Software have been around for quite a while now and have produced many different versions of their disk defragmentation software, including previous versions for Windows Home Server.
This review concentrates on the latest version Perfect Disk 10 for Windows Home Server, which was released earlier this year. It has won a number of awards, including PC Magazine’s Editor’s Choice award and WindowsITPro Reader’s Choice award. The review will cover why you need it, some of it’s key features, how to install it and the conclusions.
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.
So, are you convinced that you might benefit from defragmentation software? If so, one thing that is very important to understand is that no matter what software you use, it MUST be Windows Home Server aware because of the way that Drive Extender works in WHS.
So, what are some of the key features of Perfect Disk 10 for Windows Home Server I hear you ask? Well, even if you didn’t ask I am going to tell you!
SMARTPlacement is a feature that identifies the files that you use most and then organises them according to your own usage patterns. What this basically means is that the process is specific to you and how you operate. This speeds up subsequent defragmentation which also reduces any performance hits on the computer.
Single-pass defrag means that your drives are defragmented on a single pass, and not multiple passes like on previous versions.
AutoPilot Scheduling means that you can set the defragmentation up to take place at a time that is convenient for you and how you work.
There are quite a few other features – if you want to read all about them, click here.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
There are two different licence options for Perfect Disk 10 for Windows Home Server.
The first is a Single Licence, which covers your Windows Home Server and a single PC. This costs $49.99 or $24.99 to upgrade if you have a previous version.
There is also a Site Licence, which also covers your Windows Home Server and up to 10 PCs, which as you may recall is the maximum number of PCs that WHS supports. This costs $99.99 or $49.99 to upgrade if you have a previous version.
TRY IT FOR FREE:
If you would like to try it for free, for 30 days, you can do so by clicking here.
INSTALLATION & CONFIGURATION
To install Perfect Disk 10 for WHS once you have obtained the program file, perform the following steps on the computer you downloaded it to (this assumes that you have the WHS Connector software installed as well) :
Double click the PD10_WHS.exe file to start the installation process.
Click Next to continue.
Choose the location to install the files – you may as well just leave the default location.
The installation will commence and when it is completed you will see the Perfect Disk menu.
At this point you can just close the menu by clicking Exit and follow these instructions:
Right-click the WHS tray icon and click on Shared Folders.
Double click the Software folder and copy the c:\Program Files\Raxco\PerfectDisk10Install\PerfectDisk10_Home_Server folder to it.
The next part of the process may be new to you – you need to actually install the software on your Windows Home Server – and to do that you need to be on the actual WHS desktop itself. To do this you can either use the Remote Desktop Connection software that comes installed with Windows if your WHS is headless (for example an HP MediaSmart server) or you can just log into your WHS if you have a mouse, keyboard and monitor attached (for example if you built one yourself).
Start the Remote Desktop Connection software on your computer – it can be found at Start, Programs, Accessories, Remote Desktop Connection (if you are running Vista) or Start, Programs, Accessories, Communications, Remote Desktop Connection (if you are running XP).
Type in the name of your Windows Home Server and when prompted type in the Administrator password. This will launch the Remote Desktop Connection and you should then see your WHS desktop once you have closed Internet Explorer – remember to be very careful here!
Double click on the Shared Folders on Server icon and then double click on the Software folder.
You should see the PerfectDisk10_Home_Server folder you copied earlier – double click it to open it.
Double click PerfectDisk_x86.msi to start the installation.
Click Next to continue. You will need to read the License Agreement, click on the I accept… radio button and then click Next to continue.
You will be prompt to chose an installation directory, you may as well leave the default choice, and also if you want to place an icon on the WHS Desktop, again, you may as well leave this. Then just click Next to continue.
Select the Setup Type from here – you should choose Complete, then click Next to continue.
On the Ready to Install screen, just click Install to continue.
At this point the installation will commence – it literally only takes a moment or two so don’t go anywhere! After it completes you have the option to check for updates, this is always a good idea and is checked by default. Just click Finish.
If there are any updates they will be downloaded for you, but it is very likely you will be told that you are running the latest version.
All you need to do now is close down the Remote Desktop Connection – and you can do this simply by clicking the X in the top right corner of the screen.
During the installation, PerfectDisk will create a weekly schedule to defragment all the drives at 6.00pm every Sunday. Also, the Firewall will be changed to allow remote access to PerfectDisk.
Now that PerfectDisk is installed, you can go to the Windows Home Server Console to use it.
Just launch the WHS Console as usual and you will see a new tab called PerfectDisk 10. Just click it to be taken to the license screen.
From here you can either enter your License key or you can continue for a 20 day trial.
You now have to configure PerfectDisk and then click Finish when you are done. You might want to consider checking the Do not show this wizard again box otherwise you will have to go through this every time.
You will now see the PerfectDisk tab in all its glory.
The first tab you are in is the Defragmentation tab, and from here you can analyse your drives and start a defragmentation of those drives.
Select a drive by clicking on it and then click the Analyze button to start.
I have to say that this is one of the parts of the software that I am not very happy with. You cannot see more than the C drive without having to scroll down and you only have a single line view so it can be a little fiddly. But after a while you do get used to it! You can actually get around this by launching the Perfect Disk 10 console from the WHS Desktop, although that does involve you having to once again use the Remote Desktop Connection software or being in front of your WHS just to see more than a single line.
Depending on the size of your drive, this may take a few minutes.
When it is complete, you will be provided with a report, as shown below.
Once you have read through the report, if you want to go ahead and perform the suggested actions, all you have to do is click on the Start button. You can then watch the process if you want or go off and do something else.
When it is all finished you will again see a report. This was very simple and only involved me click the Start button – so basically anyone can do it, you don’t need any special understanding or skill.
One the tabs is Space Management, and this tab shows you each disk and how much free space you have available.
As you can see from the screenshot, there must be a bug here as according to this, I have 561% free space on my D drive!
Another tab is AutoPilot Scheduling which enables you to set when you want the defragmentation to happen.
The final tab is the Product Resources tab. This tab shows you information on the number of files defragmented along with the amount of free space reclaimed. You can also check for updates, view the logs, change settings and more.
Each of the tabs have multiple other tabs and buttons within them for very fine tunin
g and setting changes, so chances are, if there is something you want to do or change, there is a way to do it.
So, in conclusion, Perfect Disk 10 for Windows Home Server is a very easy to install and easy to use product that once you have installed you can pretty much just leave it there running in the background. You may want to make a few tweaks, such as when the defragmentation happens, but again, it is very simple to do with just a few clicks of the mouse.
Again, if you think back to the start of the article, I mentioned that there are two camps when it comes to defragmentation software. I am still convinced that defrag is a necessity on any computer. I didn’t notice any performance hit from running Perfect Disk, even when I performed the initial analysis and defragmentation. In fact, to try and stress it a little more, I even performed a backup on a machine that had never been backed up at the same time as that initial defragmentation – without any problems.
Given the fact you can try it for free for 30 days, why not give it a go and see what it can do for you? And if you want to buy it, the cost is very small and even the cheapest licence also gives you a copy for one of your PCs as well.
For more information on Perfect Disk 10 and Raxco, click here.
WOULD YOU LIKE A FREE COPY?
So, would you like a free, fully licensed copy of Perfect Disk 10 for Windows Home Server?
Our friends at Raxco have given us 3 full licences of Perfect Disk 10 for Windows Home Server to give away to you lucky readers.
To win a copy, all you need to do is send an email to giveaways @ usingwhs.com (remembering to remove the spaces) with the title Perfect Disk 10 Giveaway, and tell us your name and where you are located, and a suggestion to improve UsingWindowsHomeServer.com by Friday 27th March 2009. Winners will be picked at random and announced on the site on Saturday 28th March. Good luck!