Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.
1: PerfectDisk Professional
PerfectDisk Professional (Figure A) is a tool for defragmenting the hard disks on Windows PCs. It allows you to perform defragmentation at boot time, on a scheduled basis, or manually. It also gives enables you to prevent auto optimization from occurring during specific periods of time.
As a bonus, PerfectDisk displays your hard disk’s SMART information and includes a nice dashboard view that consolidates status information, SMART information, scheduled tasks, and alerts.
PerfectDisk Professional sells for $29.99, but a free trial version is available for download.
2: Ashampoo Magical Defrag
Ashampoo Magical Defrag (Figure B) includes all the features you would expect from a commercial defrag application. It performs deep analysis of your system’s hard disks and automated defragmentation. Unlike some defragmentation applications, however, Magical Defrag is SSD aware—which is important, since old school defragmentation can shorten the life of an SSD.
The other cool thing about this application is that it includes a screensaver that uses a world map view to show the machine’s defragmentation status. The screen saver is a little bit tough to explain, but it is worth a look.
Ashampoo Magical Defrag sells for $14.99, but a free trial is available for download.
3: O&O Defrag Professional Edition
O&O Defrag Professional Edition (Figure C) has a built-in cluster inspector and an option to optimize thin provisioning. The application also features a built-in reporting engine.
O&O Defrag Professional Edition sells for $29.95, but a free trial version is available for download.
4: UltimateDefrag Freeware Edition
UltimateDefrag Freeware Edition (Figure D) is a handy defragmentation program. The cool thing about UltimateDefrag is that it allows you to choose the type of defragmentation you want to perform. You can defragment files only, you can perform a consolidated defragmentation, or you can base defragmentation on filename and folder name, recency, or volatility.
5: WinUtilities Free Edition
WinUtilities Free Edition (Figure E) is another good option for those who don’t want to use the native Windows defragmentation feature. The thing that makes WinUtilities different from the other defragmentation tools on this list is that it comprises an entire suite of utilities, not just a defragmenter. It includes a disk cleaner, a registry cleaner, and an uninstaller, just to name a few. Note that the free version contains only basic utilities, while the paid version contains enhanced utilities.