Let’s begin today’s article with giving you a clue on why the best defrag software is still a thing in “the current year”: yes, we know that SSDs are all the rage nowadays, and yes, they dramatically increase the overall speed of your system. However, most people still use SSD/HDD combos, due to the latter’s affordability with regard to cost per GB, because guess what: most people reading this article are not interested in spending a small fortune on a 4+ TB SSD for their Anime collection.
Why is Defrag Software Still a Thing?
When it comes to classic HDDs, defragmentation is scientifically proven to increase performance, and also extends the drive’s life-span. HDDs are known to become increasingly slower as time passes by since the first OS-install, and that can become frustrating, to say the least. Here defrag software comes into play, helping you squeeze the last drop of performance out of that lazy mechanical hard drive. And speaking of lazy mechanical drives, don’t forget to take a look at the best disk partition software if you want to increase your HDD’s performance, alright?
So, what the heck is fragmentation? To make it real simple, fragmentation consists of bits of information that are spread randomly over your HDD’s area, thus making it slower when it comes to reading it. The more you use your hard-disk (copying files, installing programs/games and so on and so forth), the more fragmentation you’ll get over time, as this is basically a “natural phenomenon” of sorts (or a built-in bug), which may lead to random freeze-ups and crashes.
Defragmentation can be best described as “cleaning your room”, i.e. to put the random pieces of data which are spread across your HDD in good order. And the best (and easiest) way to have a clean room is to keep it clean, instead of allowing garbage to accumulate for 2 weeks in a row, right?
The best way to improve performance and keep your system fast and healthy is to prevent fragmentation, i.e. to stop it in its tracks before it happens. As you may already know, Windows and other operating systems have their own in-house-made defrag tools, but the best defrag software must be able to obliterate the problem as it occurs, i.e. in real time. And no, Windows cannot do that.
How to Choose the Best Defrag Software
That’s an easy question: high-end defrag software must be able to mitigate disk fragmentation in real time, as it occurs, i.e. keep your eyes peeled for the real-time defragmentation feature. Windows’ built-in defrag thing operates on a fixed schedule or manually, and that’s not good enough for performance-obsessed geeks or enterprise environments.
Also, you must choose between freeware and paid-for defrag-tools (the exact same issue with choosing cloning software), depending on the level of performance expected; obviously, commercial defrag software offer advanced features, which come handy especially in enterprise environments. With all these in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones, shall we?
Best Defrag Software
Freeware at its Best
Disk Speedup is a very popular piece of software coming from Glarysoft, and the best thing about it is that it’s absolutely free. Okay, you may see a few little ads here and there, but that’s not a deal breaker. Using Disk Speedup is fairly easy and it allows you to defrag both individual HDDs and files/folders. Despite being free, Disk Speedup comes with very cool features: for example, it can perform an automatic defrag after your PC has been in idle mode for a specific number of minutes.
Basically, everything about Disk Speedup is very specific, highly customizable and professional; to give you another clue, you can disable defragging for particular file fragments which, let’s say have more than 3 fragments, are smaller than 15 MB or are bigger than 100 MB. Obviously, you can customize these values as you see fit.
Moreover, speaking of defragging in real time, Disk Speedup really shines in this regard, as it allows you to automatically move unused/large/certain format-files to the end of the HDD; smaller ones/more commonly used are thus ending up “on top”, a feature that improves access times. On top of that, you can exclude specific folders/files from a system-defrag, turn-off your machine after the procedure has completed, run a boot-time defrag and schedule optimizations/defrags daily, weekly or monthly.
- it’s completely free
- very easy to install
- defrags when your machine idles
- lots of tweaking options
- highly customizable
- works with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP and Windows Server 2003.
- can’t use it on removable drives
- watch out for bloat-ware on install
- it’s a Windows-only deal
Piriform’s Touch of Genius
Here comes another freeware, this time from Piriform, which is the sacred monster of free software tools like Recuva, Specy or CCleaner. Recuva is a free backup software tool, while CCleaner is a system/registry cleaner among other cool things. Defraggler makes for the fourth musketeer of sorts, the D’Artagnan of the bunch, and it plays it in its own league as free defragmentation software that can selectively push rarely used fragmented files towards the end of the drive, thus improving access speed and giving your system a performance boost.
Considering the fact that it’s a freebie, Defraggler is arguably one the best defrag software out there, as it works both on internal and external HDDs, being capable of freeing space or defragging data, including defragmenting specific folders or files and nothing more. Another unique feature is that you can get a portable version of Defraggler for flash drives, which is another rare feature for freeware.
And on top of that, you get almost “across the board” Windows compatibility, as Defraggler can be installed on Windows Server 2008 and 2003, Windows Vista, XP, 7, 8 and 10.
- totally free
- can run defrags on schedule or automatically
- can defrag during a reboot
- defrags specific folders or files
- you can exclude specific data from defrag
- will move rarely used fragmented files towards the end of the HDD for improved access times
- works on external HDDs/flash drives
- there’s a portable version available
- comes from the father of freeware
- tons of features/extra options
- great for home users
- installs Chrome browser by default
- idle defragging not supported
IObit Smart Defrag
Smart Defrag is an intelligent defrag-freeware which is capable of determining the ideal time to defrag your machine, and we’re not kidding either. IObit is a company specialized in software tools, just like Piriform, and their Smart Defrag software is specifically designed to optimize computer performance (both HDDs and SSDs) by improving access times via moving commonly used files to faster areas of the HDD.
Basically, your computer will be able to get faster access times to the files you use the most. The user-interface is cleverly designed and easy to use, and the best thing about Smart Defrag is that it combines software optimization (IObit’s specialty) with defragging. The end result is top-performance, as Smart Defrag organizes files by usage while running the defragging thing.
Since our website is game-centric, we have great news for gamers using Smart Defrag: there’s a game optimizer function hidden in there which dramatically boosts speed and performance courtesy of the new Defrag Engine.
- free of charge
- easy to use and to install
- has a game optimization option
- defrags and optimizes system settings simultaneously
- clean interface
- features specific file/folder exclusion
- supports both standard and boot-time defragmenting
- turns off your machine after defrag
- removes junk files before defragging
- works with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10
- comes with portable version
- allows defragging free-space only
- can’t perform idle defrags
- there’s no duplicate file finder feature
Auslogics Disk Defrag
Auslogics’ Disk Defrag is a very fast and compact defragmenter aimed at boosting PC performance while boasting over 19 million downloads. Obviously, looking at the metrics, this is not the most popular defrag software out there, but it’s still pretty good, all things considered, not to mention the fact that it’s completely free of charge. One of the main “selling points” (pun intended) of Auslogics Disk Defrag is its simplicity.
At a “flick of the switch”, this baby will defragment your HDD quickly and hassle-free; on top of that you get consolidated free space and optimized file placement, which in laymen’s terms means your HDD will be able to access relevant data at the highest speed possible for a mechanical drive, which is still pretty slow. Joke aside, Disk Defrag also comes with a nice feature, as it can be set to auto-defrag your HDD while your computer is in idle mode, thus allowing you to keep the issue in check 24/7.
If you’re looking for basic HDD maintenance for a Windows-running machine, it doesn’t get any better than Auslogics Disk Defrag.
- completely free
- lightweight (easy on resources)
- allows targeted defragging
- auto defrags in idle mode
- very fast
- easy to use and to install
- works on all Windows versions (XP and above)
- portable version available (also free)
- shuts down computer after defrag
- none really for freeware
The Best Commercial Defrag Software
O&O Defrag is a legend in this field, and that’s confirmed by the fact that the company is one of Microsoft’s Gold partners, which means they develop their product together with Bill Gates’ team of geeks. In laymen’s terms, if you’re looking for commercial defrag software, this is one of the best out there. O&O defrag does a great job on both internal and external drives, HDDs and SSDs alike, and it features an ergonomically designed user interface, which is intuitive and clean.
After you start O&O Defrag you’ll have 3 choices: disk defragmentation, startup inefficiency checkup (which is great) and duplicate file check. These three features are basically everything you’ll ever need to keep your drive-related problems in check, whether we talk about a high end gaming rig or an older PC powered by spinning squirrels (that would be mechanical HDDs).
You can run a disk defrag manually or as a recurring schedule (as customizable as humanly possible). And don’t worry, as O&O can silently work in the background while you’re doing your thing, due to its resource throttling feature, which doesn’t impair your PC’s functionality. O&O Defrag will also do a great job with optimizing startup applications, and it can eventually relocate them for easier access.
- excellent user interface
- easy to use even for “normies”
- very efficient resource-wise
- lightning fast
- allows auto-defrag in the background
- O&O DiskStat option delivers comprehensive stats
- works with most Windows versions (Vista and above)
- no free version available
Probably The Best Free Defrag Software
UltraDefrag can be best described as every computer geek’s wet dream, as it makes for an open-source and completely free defrag software which allows boot time defragmentation (with tons of options), advanced editing of program settings, as well as “vanilla” defrag-features. It’s also worth mentioning that UltraDefrag is primarily aimed at advanced users, but have no fear noobs, as due to the software’s basic (as in default) functions and intuitive design, you’ll have zero issues with handling it.
In addition to classic HDD defrag, you can improve your HDD health/performance by using the quick or the full optimization feature, and you can also view comprehensive reports of fragmented files in HTML, including the path/size of the file and the number of fragments. Finally, UltraDefrag works with virtually all Windows versions, from the venerable Windows XP and above, up to Windows 10. On top of that, the software is fully compatible with Windows Server 2003, 2008 and 2012, including the 32 bit version of Windows NT 4.0 and Windows Server 2000 (which is impressive).
- freeware/open source
- comes with highly advanced features
- basic users will have their day in the sun too
- boot time defragging supported
- works on specific folders/files
- fully customizable
- there are also commercial/enterprise versions
- default settings work great
- there’s no user interface for editing options (text only)
SYSTWEAK Disk Speedup
Resource-Friendly Defrag Software
Last but not least in our best defrag software list is Disk Speedup from SysTweak, another interesting option which is available in both free and paid-for versions. The good news is that even the free variant comes with lots of cool features; for example, advanced users can edit highly specific settings and the software itself fully supports boot defrags as well as scheduled ones.
Coming from a reputable software manufacturer, SysTweak Disk Speedup is obviously safe to use and secure regardless of one’s “security clearance level”, and it also works with most Windows versions, including XP and Windows Server 2003, up to Windows 10.
- available in both free and paid versions
- defrags any type of file, external and internal drives
- easy to use
- resource friendly
- supports boot time defrag
- can also optimize your HDD for faster file-access
- you can defrag more than one drive in the same time
- doesn’t work on flash drives
- watch out for bloatware upon install