As promised, today I will be doing the first of my series of freeware spotlights. Unlike my Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday spots, these freeware entries won’t run every week, nor will they be numbered. However, unlike my “Cooking With Taco” spotlight, I’ll only be doing freeware as a way to fill in the odd Friday… mostly because I like alliteration.

This week, we’ll take a look at Smart Defrag 2 by I0bit.

If you’ve ever used a Windows computer (which I’m assuming the vast majority of you have) you probably know that the hard drives need to be defragmented from time to time in order to help the computer work a little better. This fragmentation is caused by the way that Windows handles file allocation and is really a discussion all in itself.

Now there are a LOT of drive defragmentation programs out there. One of these comes with windows and is widely viewed as being horrible, both because it’s pretty slow and has no configuration options (at least, not ones that are intuitive and easily accessible).

You've probably seen this... you've probably also had this take a day or two to do its job.

At the other end of the spectrum are packages like O&O Defrag, which is both fully featured and pretty fast. It’s also costs $30, which to me is a bit steep for a program I’m likely only going to run once a month or so. It’s also rather memory intensive compared to other solutions. You can get a test version of the software that you can trial for a bit, and there is a very old version of O&O Defrag that has been pruned down into a free version that you can find if you hunt around enough. Both of those options aren’t so great.

On the free side of the spectrum, there are many defrag programs, most of which are pretty simple and don’t offer much in the way of features. Generally they just piggyback directly onto the Windows native algorithm and just encapsulate it with a few efficiency boosting algorithms and wrap it all in a simple GUI. By and large these solutions aren’t very impressive, and aren’t really that good.

This is where Smart Defrag 2 fills the freeware niche nicely. While it isn’t as fully featured as O&O, it certainly has enough features for the home user. It’s about as fast as O&O, uses less system resources when in monitoring mode, and does the job you need it to do, i.e. defragment your drives. It’s more robust than the Windows version and much more intuitive. You can also set up automatic defragging and the like, which is handy if you’re as forgetful as I am.

I’ve used Smart Defrag for a few years now and have been pretty happy with it. For those who want to tweak it, I recommend turning off the active defrag agent and instead set up a monthly defrag job. As of yet I’ve never hit a sudden defrag emergency that warrants constant monitoring of my system, and as such monitoring does consume some system resources, I find that I’m better off without it unless I’m doing something that specifically needs monitoring (which hasn’t actually happened yet). Otherwise, the software speaks pretty well for itself.

From the press side of things, Smart Defrag has a wide array of good ratings and editor’s choice awards with most of the primary software download sites (including ZDNet, Cnet, PC Magazine, TowCows, Softpedia, and PC World among many others). It’s a well established program, so you can put aside worries about it being malicious or poorly constructed.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?