If free is paramount then use what the OS provides. There are a few that wanted absolute control over defragmenting (...)
But then again how could a defragmenter quess what would be best for you. For Windows, http://www.theeldergeek.com/disk_defragmenter_utility.htm
"For the majority of users, the Disk Defragmenter Utility included with XP is sufficient to keep the hard drives in relatively good condition, but it's actually what is known as a Lite or slightly crippled version of Diskeeper(...)"
I agree -- mostly.
Actually, a defragmenter cannot "guess" much. It can defragment files, and use the access logs which the OS provides (if it does), and probably follow some simple rules which its developer gave it, like
"Place directories including MFT first" ,
"Place recently accessed files next" ,
"Push everything which hasn't been accessed for 90 days to the end of the partition" and so on.
However, I had good results with a two-partition approach:
Partition #1: XP and selected programs only (those which are loaded at boot time)
Partition #2: most programs, games, data, documents, backups, whathaveyou.
At boot time, partition #2 is hardly ever accessed. And because #1 is so tight, there is next to no head movement. I have a dozen games installed, and still boot time in the 40's without defragging.
Of course, after I had everything installed, I defragged the whole mother with a "directories only" script, ie the "data disk monthly" except that there are only 3 zones: Mft, dirs, everything else. That cut down boot time to ~35 seconds, on a 230GiB Seagata Sata.
A more thorough defragging run with "data disk monthly" shaved off another 5 seconds, and it was a better result than "system disk monthly", even on C:.
However, I gave up on the idea of "sort by name". They tend to shuffle way too many data. What use is it to sacrifice ~30 minutes for a mere 1 to 2 seconds game launch time?
If one of the games is noisy on the disk, I modify the script like that:
MFT, dirs, D:\Games\<Game>, recently accessed files, non-spacehog files, spacehogs.
That'll sort out most of the HD noises nicely, and save one-third on load times, give or take.
Sort by name does the same, since the full path is accounted for, but it does go overboard IMO.
If anybody suffers from performance degradation within days, I'd try to introduce / increase gaps near the front, so that new temp files don't have to be created near the end. I don't suspect that defragmented but re-fragmented files are to blame.