One of the nifty things about a computer is its ability to perform many tasks simultaneously–while a user is composing a word doc, that same computer might also be performing a database search, receiving emails, doing a malware scan, and executing a host of other processes. This capacity can also be a downfall, however, when it comes to performance; if a computer is executing too many tasks at once, resources become overtaxed and response slows down. This is especially true if said tasks are CPU-intensive.
One notable example is a virus scan. Hopefully this process executes while a user isn’t on a computer, because if does, the negative performance hit is definitely noticeable–that horrid “lag” waiting for a file to open or close or for changes to save. It can depend on how it’s been set to run, but a virus scan can take quite awhile if it’s to scan all the files on a computer including the registry and temp files. And all the while the user is patiently (or impatiently) waiting for work to complete.
Another example is backups. These have traditionally been set to run when users aren’t working, but because many of today’s enterprises are 24X7 backups can execute when users are logged on–and they seriously impact computer speed while they’re running. But there’s really no alternative; regular backups must be performed for any disaster recovery to be effective.
Then there’s the process which affects the running time of both the above, and just about everything else: defragmentation. The traditional defragmentation solution, scheduled defragmentation, is set to run at a certain time daily or weekly. Again, a time that users are off the system has all but disappeared these days, and any active users suffer. But like the other two examples, defragmentation is vital. If not performed, fragmentation builds to astounding rates and performance can slow or stop altogether.
What can possibly be done? Fortunately, some software programmers are finally getting a grip on providing background processes a way to run without adverse affect. In one notable example, advanced technology has been applied to defragmentation, allowing it to run completely automatically without impacting performance. The methodology used includes the use of only idle resources–hence, when resources are needed, the defragmenter is not running. But at any time it can, it is defragmenting the drive or drives. Aside from the fact it can run in the background without affecting performance, there are numerous other benefits such as the fact that volumes are consistently defragmented and system reliability and performance are always maximized. There is also no longer a need for scheduling, so valuable IT time can be retrieved and spent on more important matters.
Such technology is obviously the wave of the future–background processes that in no way interfere with the accomplishing of active work. It will be nice when the rest catch up!