Proof that We Really Do Need to Defragment

Daveway

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Jul 10, 2004
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New Orleans / Lafayette, La
I am a local Mac repairman and I, like others, have preached time after time that de-fragmenting in Mac OS X is unnecessary. While it is true that Unix does its best to do this dirty task itself, it can't do it all.
Yesterday I began trying out new software to use out in the field like: Disk Genius and Tech Tools. I ran the software, which included de-fragmenting software, on my one-year-old iMac G5. What I found was quite surprising.
Not only was my 80GB drive fragmented, but it had nearly 80% file fragmentation. I let the de-fragmenting process follow through with the 3 hours it required.
My mac now has faster start times and Finder processes seem to be a bit snappier.
I followed up this process on a lightly used 2-year-old iBook with 55% fragmentation and the results were similar.

I am not advocating the need to go out and purchase these utilities to de-fragment your hard drive, but rather making a suggestion that what we have been telling many people here on the forums may not be entirely true.
De-fragmenting your drive once are twice a year could be helpful to the overall speed and integrity of your hard drive.

-Dave
 

bousozoku

Moderator emeritus
Jun 25, 2002
13,951
3
Gone but not forgotten.
I'm glad someone else has figured this out. While it's less necessary than with Windows' FAT16 and FAT32 file systems, there are times when it's a good idea to keep the machine running at its best.

Of course, the one thing to remember is that any power interruption during defragmentation could result in data loss. Make certain you have a UPS backing up the power supply.
 

Daveway

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Jul 10, 2004
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New Orleans / Lafayette, La
I used Disk Genius because its bootable from the disk. Tech Tools is not really bootable but rather it makes its own partition. I didn't like the idea of that, but Tech Tools has a few more features than Disk Genius.

Remember to backup first.;)
 

bousozoku

Moderator emeritus
Jun 25, 2002
13,951
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Gone but not forgotten.
Daveway said:
I used Disk Genius because its bootable from the disk. Tech Tools is not really bootable but rather it makes its own partition. I didn't like the idea of that, but Tech Tools has a few more features than Disk Genius.

Remember to backup first.;)
The TTP4 eDrive was great for me but didn't work on larger drives and I wish it was installed now because my SuperDrive isn't working well when reading CDs. The TTP4 CD is bootable but takes a very long time.
 

wiseguy27

macrumors 6502
Apr 30, 2005
420
0
USA
Daveway said:
I am not advocating the need to go out and purchase these utilities to de-fragment your hard drive, but rather making a suggestion that what we have been telling many people here on the forums may not be entirely true. De-fragmenting your drive once are twice a year could be helpful to the overall speed and integrity of your hard drive.
-Dave
It definitely would be a good idea to do it once in a while - more so for people who deal with large chunks of temporary files (like those created during video editing, other pro work, etc.).
 

iriejedi

macrumors 6502a
Oct 4, 2000
807
116
Nor Cal
iDeFrag

EGT said:
Which software did you find the best?

I just did this a few days ago with iDefrag - I went ahead and paid the $30 for the utility which included a make a boot CD (OS + Defrag tool) based on 10.4.2 OS tool as well.

My system is MUCH much snappier.

found it with Versiontracker.com

current version 1.1.3
 

RedTomato

macrumors 601
Mar 4, 2005
4,014
313
.. London ..
what about sterMachine?

what about sterMachine? Doesn't letting that go through the full list of maintenance tasks also unfrag the disk?

I used to use Cocktail (which has a nicer interface) but the demo on that expired, and now I use sterMachine, which is totally free. I give it a run every couple of months, and it runs the daily, weekly and monthly Unix cron maintance jobs.

(they need doing on OSX too but as they're set to run at the middle of the night, when most people's Macs are sleeping, the system rarely if ever actually gets to run them. )

Afterwards, yeah it does make a genuine difference :)

cheers

.. RedTomato ..
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Jul 4, 2004
21,652
123
I've never doubted it, although admittedly I haven't done much about it on my work machines or the home Mac which is a little lazy especially with some of the file sizes I can end up working with.

Got a copy of TechTools but somehow more pressing things just seem to get in the way... :eek:
 

Counterfit

macrumors G3
Aug 20, 2003
8,202
0
sitting on your shoulder
Tech Tool Pro 4 takes FOREVER on a 200GB drive. OWC drives come with Intech SpeedTools. The defrag is fast, but 1.1 doesn't work with Tiger, and you can't upgrade without a serial.

Actually, forget what I said about not being able to update without purchasing, you can download updates for OEM versions from Intech.
 

Bear

macrumors G3
Jul 23, 2002
8,089
4
Sol III - Terra
fayans said:
If de-fragmentation is a necessity, why isn't there any such function by default? Just my piece of thought. :rolleyes:
Actually OS X does degragment files under 25 megs (or so) when you access them.

Besied, it doesn't matter how many files are fregmented as much as it matters the size of the fragments. For example, say you have a disk full of 100 meg (or larger) files and all of them are fragmented. How many fragments in each file? If it only 2 or 3, then the fragment sizes are fairly large and will not really impact performance.

Percent fragmented means very little by itself. average number of fragments per fragmented file means more. And the average fragment size means even more.
 

fayans

macrumors 6502a
Sep 19, 2005
649
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MacRumors: Forums
RedTomato said:
what about sterMachine? Doesn't letting that go through the full list of maintenance tasks also unfrag the disk?
.. RedTomato ..
I have looked at sterMachine but couldn't find the defrag function. Am I missing something here?
 

~Shard~

macrumors P6
Jun 4, 2003
18,388
42
1123.6536.5321
Defragging definitely isn't necessary, although it never hurts to do it, say once or twice a year. ;)

Hard disk capacity is generally much greater now than a few years ago. With more free space available, the file system doesn't need to fill up every "nook and cranny." HFS Plus avoids reusing space from deleted files as much as possible, to avoid prematurely filling small areas of recently-freed space.

In general, fragmentation is often caused by continually appending data to existing files, especially with resource forks. But now, with faster hard drives and better caching, as well as the new application packaging format, many applications simply rewrite the entire file each time. Panther and Tiger can also automatically defragment such slow-growing files. Aggressive read-ahead and write-behind caching means that minor fragmentation has less effect on perceived system performance.

For these reasons, there is little benefit to defragging. :cool:
 

fayans

macrumors 6502a
Sep 19, 2005
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MacRumors: Forums
I admit I have to agree that there is little benefit to defragging.

If de-fragmentation is a necessity, why isn't there any such function by default?
My point here is that if it is necessary to do so, then by default there will one in OSX. ;)
 

EricBrian

macrumors 6502a
Jul 30, 2005
631
0
RedTomato said:
I used to use Cocktail (which has a nicer interface) but the demo on that expired, and now I use sterMachine, which is totally free.
There is no such thing in Cocktail.
 

beg_ne

macrumors 6502
Jul 3, 2003
452
0
Daveway said:
I let the de-fragmenting process follow through with the 3 hours it required.
My mac now has faster start times and Finder processes seem to be a bit snappier.
I followed up this process on a lightly used 2-year-old iBook with 55% fragmentation and the results were similar.

-Dave
Are you sure things actually speeded up? Did you time the startup etc.? Things like this often tend to have a placebo effect on people. From what i've read from other places the HD itself and the FileSystem have a lot better idea of whats going on more than these programs tend to. I view defrag programs the same way I do software from Norton on Mac.
 

EricBrian

macrumors 6502a
Jul 30, 2005
631
0
~Shard~ said:
Aggressive read-ahead and write-behind caching means that minor fragmentation has less effect on perceived system performance.
According to contributions by members here, what you wrote there doesn't seem to be correct.
 

risc

macrumors 68030
Jul 23, 2004
2,756
0
Melbourne, Australia
fayans said:
If de-fragmentation is a necessity, why isn't there any such function by default? Just my piece of thought. :rolleyes:
Yeah and if it was necessary to actually remove .pkgs OS X would include tools to do this too. :rolleyes:

There is plenty of stuff OS X should have that isn't included by default.

$99 for drive genius though, WTH!
 

bousozoku

Moderator emeritus
Jun 25, 2002
13,951
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Gone but not forgotten.
EricBrian said:
According to contributions by members here, what you wrote there doesn't seem to be correct.
He's right, concerning minor fragmentation...1 to 5 % but as it increases and the files are over the 20 MB that Panther and Tiger automatically de-fragment on opening, the effect on system performance is seen.

As far as startup performance, directory optimisation is usually done along with de-fragmentation, so startup performance is generally enhanced, but with Tiger, it's so fast that who can tell? :)

TTP4 is definitely slow, but safe. I'd run into a volume structures problem and after about 15 hours of analysis and repair, it's close to finishing on my 160 GB drive.