You might know that file fragmentation–the saving of files into multiple pieces (fragments), which a computer does naturally–slows down system performance and response time dramatically. What you might not be aware of, however, is the toll that fragmentation can take on your computer hardware, specifically your hard drive.
File fragmentation is an unfortunate side effect of a file system utilizing a hard drive to its best. Saving files in fragments means that all or nearly all of the space on a hard drive can be used–files saved all in one piece would leave considerable wasted space. But the solution to better hard drive use became something that drastically abused it.
The reason lies in the fact that, in order to access a fragmented file, the computer needs to perform seek operations for each fragment of each file. If a file is fragmented in tens, hundreds or thousands of fragments (not at all uncommon), the “thrashing” of the hard drive is quite dramatic and can easily reduce the lifespan of a hard drive
Most people won’t wait until a drive actually quits functioning, however–the drive will be replaced when it starts slowing down. So this premature ending to a drive’s life can even come sooner.
For an individual user, such a toll on the hard drive can be a bit expensive, not taking into account lost files (such as family photos) which might be priceless. For a company with multiple computers or a whole network, it can mean serious money in lost production, data, and hardware replacement costs. In either case, an ounce of prevention–the relatively minor cost of a defrag solution–is worth a pound of cure. Which, in this case, means new hard drives.
Not only should defragmentation be put into place, but attention should also be paid to the defragmentation technology employed. Scheduled defragmentation solutions, the norm for many years, are no longer keeping pace with today’s fragmentation rates. This is because file sizes and disk capacities have grown dramatically, and in between scheduled defragmentation runs fragmentation continues to build–and the toll is still being taken on your drive or drives despite a defragmenter being used.
Today’s computing environment mandates a fully automatic defragmentation solution, one that will defragment any time idle system resources are available. That means performance is always maintained–and your hard drive will actually perform for its expected life.