In the future people will look back on defragmentation software as a quirk of history. The emergence of solid-state hard drives renders the debilitating effects of fragmentation redundant, but in the here and now, the vast majority of people continue to use the established, decades-old platter-and-arm technology. Seeing as fragmentation impedes performance, makes the drive work harder and ultimately shortens its life, it’s obvious that some form of defragmentation tool is a necessity, which is why Windows is bundled with its own built-in defrag tool.

The Windows Defrag tool – particularly the one bundled with XP – leave quite a bit to be desired. They’re perfectly adequate, but ifyou want to push the performance envelope and push your drive’s lifespan even further you’ll need a third-party solution.

The days when paid-for tools like Diskeeper and O&O Defrag had the market all to themselves are long gone. Free tools offer exceptional functionality and performance, but Diskeeper is fighting back with its latest release. Defrag tools are – by their nature – reactive beasts, and even those with auto-defrag features are still defragging files after they’ve been written to the disk. Diskeeper 2011 aims to close this loophole with its new IntelliWrite feature, which prevents up to 85 per cent of fragmentation occurring at all, simply by forcing files to be written in contiguous blocks when they’re created or edited.

This feature is married with more new technologies, including Instant Defrag which spots which files are going to be used and defrags them before use, and a new Performance Report feature to highlight the performance gains the program is delivering.

All of this new technology comes at a cost however, and the amount you pay depends on how heavy your computer usage is. The Home version here is aimed at those who only use their computer for light tasks, such as occasional word processing or web browsing, which is why it's missing two key new features from the more expensive versions: Efficient Mode, which aims to cut overheads and speed up the defrag process by prioritising problematic fragmentation, and an engine for consolidating free space to help boost performance further.

The trial lasts for 30 days, and includes a trial of HyperFast, a tool for SSD drive users to help extend the drive’s life, and which can be purchased alongside Diskeeper for an additional $10 premium.

Verdict ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings

Powerful set of features and definite performance improvements marred by the fact the Home version is missing two key new features.