A recent local newspaper article is one of many which advise defragmentation as a basic task to increase performance. This article, also like many others, additionally advises scheduling defragmentation to make it easier, so that you don’t have to think about it; it simply runs regularly at a convenient time.
Yes, all disks fragment data. With no solution to fragmentation in place, fragmentation becomes worse and worse, until performance has slowed to a crawl. A defragmenter is a must, and scheduling defragmentation can make life easier.
But there is more to the story. Scheduling defragmentation may be all well and good for your home computer, and it may even work for a small network. But when you get into larger networks, and especially when you move up to the level of enterprise computing, with hundreds or thousands of machines and advanced technologies such as RAID and server virtualization, scheduled defragmentation becomes in and of itself a time-consuming task. In order to figure out which disks need defragmenting and when, a fragmentation analysis must be done by IT personnel. Not only should it be done, it must be done regularly, because system activity and demands change; some volumes may need defragmenting more than others, and you have to keep on top of which are the most active. Once such an analysis is done, you then must schedule defragmentation on hundreds or thousands of volumes to reflect the results of your analysis.
This additional regular IT task (as if IT needed another routine task to perform) is not, however, the only burden that scheduled defragmentation brings. For unfortunately, if you check your analyses closely on your busiest volumes and especially on large volumes, you’ll find that scheduled defragmentation is actually not doing the full job. Fragmentation is being left behind, and on very busy and very large disks, it may not even be defragmenting at all.
It is clear given both these issues–IT time to analyze and schedule defragmentation, and the fact that scheduled defragmentation is leaving fragmentation untouched–that scheduled defragmentation has become outdated, and a new, higher-tech solution is needed. Fortunately, a new breed of defragmenters is arriving on the market which require no scheduling, and which will work invisibly, in the background, whenever system resources are available, with absolutely no hit on system resources to interfere with production.