Executive Software Unveils Proactive Diskeeper

With the release of version 5.0 of its Diskeeper tool, Executive Software may have raised the bar in the world of NTFS maintenance by incorporating a technology -- dubbed "Frag Guard" -- that is supposed to prevent some aspects of NTFS fragmentation.

Over the years, companies such as Executive Software Int’l Inc. (www.executive.com) and Raxco Software Inc. (www.raxco.com) have advanced the art of defragmenting Windows NT’s NTFS file system. With the release of version 5.0 of its Diskeeper tool, Executive Software may have raised the bar in the world of NTFS maintenance by incorporating a technology -- dubbed "Frag Guard" -- that allegedly prevents some aspects of NTFS fragmentation.

Diskeeper is a management tool that provides defragmentation services for disk subsystems using the 16-bit File Allocation Table (FAT) or the 32-bit Windows NT File System (NTFS). It runs on Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, Windows NT 4.0 Server and networked Windows 9x clients. Executive Software claims Frag Guard -- new in version 5.0 -- can reduce or prevent fragmentation in Windows NT page files or in the Windows NT Master File Table (MFT) itself.

Defragmenting files in the FAT-16 environment of the Windows 95 world is typically a snap, but NTFS defragmentation presents special problems. With the release of a Boot Time Directory Consolidation tool in version 3.0 of Diskeeper, Executive Software tackled a significant NTFS restriction by giving administrators the ability to defragment NTFS directory structures for the first time. In subsequent Diskeeper revisions, Executive Software addressed NTFS restrictions on page file and MFT movement and defragmentation, as well.

According to Howard Butler, senior technical engineer with Executive Software, Frag Guard prevents fragmentation in NTFS’ Master File Table (MFT) and in Windows NT paging files by intercepting file fragments as they are written to a disk.

"The Frag Guard technology is simply to intercept [file system writes] and determine the level at which either the MFT or the page file has fragmented or reached a user-defined threshold," Butler explains. "If it has [reached a pre-defined threshold], Frag Guard can enable the boot-time defragging operation."

Butler also claims that Diskeeper 5.0’s Frag Guard technology has the ability to prevent page file or MFT fragmentation in the first place. He declined to explain the technology, claiming it is a competitive secret.

Frag Guard can be especially helpful in Windows NT data centers where page file and MFT fragmentation can impede file system performance most damagingly.

"It certainly would be an ideal solution in data center-like environments because you’d have possibly fragmented page files, possibly heavily fragmented MFTs," he says.

Dan Kusnetzky, director of worldwide operating environments for International Data Corp. (www.idc.com), expects the technology can give Executive Software a shot in the arm.

"Generally the Diskeeper software has already been pretty well received by people on Windows NT systems, even though Microsoft hasn’t really acknowledged until recently that the file system can get fragmented and that this kind of software can enhance performance," Kusnetzky says.