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Review of:
FreeSpace
 
by Robert Hughes, Alamo PC

Have you ever found yourself cramped out of hard drive space? It seams like no matter how big your hard drive is, it's still not big enough. That seems to be a common problem these days with more programs, bigger applications, files filled with graphics and increased multimedia technology. 

The question for most of us is, "what am I supposed to do?" Should I delete some files, but then I might need them in the future? I could compress my hard drive and lose performance, but do I trust ‘drive-compression' and do I know I can decompress it safely later? Or should I buy another hard drive, but then I have to reload software, copy files etc. and ‘basically' start over. None of these options sound that appealing. Wasn't there another solution that will solve this problem, be safe and still let me be in control of the process? 

 Well, according to MIJENIX, "all you have to do is purchase and install "FreeSpace™" a utility software application with the main purpose of getting more hard drive space from your existing hard drive. FreeSpace is the revolutionary NEW way to get more space from your hard drive! Without deleting or uninstalling files you would rather keep. Without the trouble and expense of a new hard drive. Without risky, performance-gobbling ‘drive-compression' and best of all, it keeps you in control of the entire process. 

FreeSpace allows you to Selectively compress files to unleash hundreds of megabytes of space you never knew you had. Just choose the files that are cluttering up your hard drive: that bloated office suite, games you rarely play, work files, bulky graphics – any thing. All you need is FreeSpace to get the room you need, safely and easily! 

 Product: FreeSpace 
Version: 1.0 
Company: MIJENIX Corporation, 6666 Odana Rd, Suite 122, Madison, WI 53719 
Customer Service: 1-608-277-1981 Business Hours 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Central Standard Time. 
Sales Information: 1-800-MIJENIX (645-3649) 
Email: info@mijenix.com 
Home page: www.mijenix.com
FAQ and answers can be accessed from Mijenix's home page FreeSpace is available from some software stores or directly from Mijenix. Download price $49.95 or an evaluation copy is available from the Home page. 
 
 

System requirements:

Windows 95, (also supports OSR-2 and FAT32). 8mb ram, 2.5mb free hard disk space. Windows NT 4.0, NTFS partitions only, 16mb ram, 2.5mb hard disk space. Under NT, FreeSpace uses the native compression capabilities of NTFS instead of its own compression. Automatic compression by file type is not supported under Windows NT. 

 DOS Support: requires DOS in Windows; does not currently support native DOS (boot into DOS). If your data is already compressed, such as on DoubleSpace drives or Stacker drives, there will generally be no further gains available. 

 This program came on one floppy disk (3 ½") and was very easy to install using the built in installation wizard which included a series of dialog boxes that guided me step by step through the installation process. At first, I was a bit worried about installing this software because I have used compression technique software ("STACKER", "MS-DOS", and "Win95") in the past and was less than 100% satisfied with the results. Either the speed (performance) was cut in half, or I could not undo what I had done, and worst, I had to compress the entire hard drive and none of these allowed me to personalize or control the compression. 

After glancing through the manual, I installed the software and was up and running in a matter of minutes and after a test run of this application, I found that FreeSpace did indeed live up to its claim of doing what, when, and how I wanted it to do. 

Until now, the trade off for squeezing more space out of hard drives was decreased performance, but now the PC simply reads and writes smarter, smaller files on the fly. Perhaps opening some files can actually take less time because FreeSpaced files are so much smaller. 

 Once installed, I had several options to search for and compress files. I could let the Intelligent Wizards "FreeSpace Analyzer" and "Quick Space" hunts down those space-hogging files for compression or I could choose to select the files I want to compress directly from the Windows Explorer. I tried it both ways and found that the wizards were able to do a much better job. 

The QuickSpace Wizard asks how much space you need, and the Wizard will immediately find the best files to compress (for example, when you suddenly need more space for a large program installation you can immediately get it, without scrambling for a quick solution). 

FreeSpace compressed and reduced my files by and average of 60% with the highest at 98% and it only compressed the files I selected. The unselected files were left alone. In total, I gained about 150% more space on both my hard and floppy disks. 

Another wizard I found useful was the FreeSpace Analyzer. This tool offered me a birds-eye view of how the space was being used on my hard drive. This tool quickly pinpointed areas where space was being wasted. The extensive advanced features allowed me to customize both the wasted space and the compression of files. 

 FreeSpace didn't cram the entire hard drive into one huge file, like other drive compression programs do. FreeSpace uses its own Dynamic File System Enhancement (DFSE) technology that allows on-the-fly compression and decompression at extremely high speeds. This enhanced file system showed no noticeable slowdown in program execution and in fact, FreeSpace worked completely transparently. 

There are no extra steps needed to access compressed files and programs, as with ‘ZIP' file formats and I found no noticeable difference in operation. The compressed data appeared and acted the same way as if it were not compressed, and the most exciting part is, FreeSpaced data was automatically uncompressed when transferring it to others using either email or a network. 

 One of the neat features of this program is it allowed me to reclaim wasted cluster space automatically. A cluster is the smallest unit of space on a hard drive – from 4K to 32K, depending on the operating system. According to Mijenix, "up to 70% of files waste cluster space under current FAT16 technology, and up to 40% will continue to be wasted even under the new FAT 32 systems". When FreeSpace compresses files it reclaims wasted cluster space. With the new DFSE technology, FreeSpace shrinks them to the smallest size possible, then the TightCluster™ feature optimizes those files so they take up even less space. To me, this means I will not have to purchase a different program to reclaim wasted space. 

 FreeSpace claims it can even improve system performance and reduce out-of-memory errors. Since the Windows memory management system is directly dependent upon hard drive space, freeing up more space can improve overall system performance, and reduce out-of-memory errors. 

 In the case of systems with very low hard drive space, the performance increase will be quite dramatic. I found that my parallel port Iomega Zip drive, FreeSpace compressed files loaded about 300% faster. 

 FreeSpace Manager can be accessed any time from the ‘Start' ‘Programs' menu. Once installed, the programs opening screen gives the user six options: 

     
  • Quick Space; allows one to defined amount of hard drive space to be freed up. 
  • Compress; allows one to systematically or methodically compress data. 
  • Decompress; allows one to systematically or methodically compress data. 
  • Settings; allows one to customize FreeSpace and set the file types to compress. 
  • Disk Checkup; scans disk drives or files to validate and maintain data in good condition 
  • Easy Update; allows one to update (backwards compatible) versions of FreeSpace on-the-fly.
Summary: FreeSpace is an easy-to-use software utility for today's computer user. It supports Windows 95 and NT/NTFS systems. It dramatically increases existing hard drive space be letting the user selectively compress data and optimize hard drive clusters. FreeSpace' proprietary compression and cluster optimization techniques result in an average 150% gain of disk space per file compressed. It solves many of the problems inherent in other older so-called space saving solutions. With FreeSpace, there is no need to delete or uninstall files, programs or purchase new hard drives just to get more space and best of all, you stay 100% in control. I recommend this software to anyone who needs more disk space.