If it had happened in, say, 1940, there would have been a real uproar. A business–let’s call it an advertising company–is operating right along, selling their advertising services, collecting impressive sums for doing so, and keeping meticulous records of prospects, sales, and income banked. Then one day everyone comes to work and find that all those records are gone. No prospect files can be found, so the sales reps aren’t sure who to call about what. No collection documentation is available, so AP isn’t sure who owes money and who doesn’t. And nobody even knows how much money is in the bank.
We can compare this to current times when we realize that all of the above type of data is stored on hard drives. If a hard drive fails, that data is not accessible. It has the same effect as on that hypothetical 1940 business whose physical records all disappeared: until that data can be somehow retrieved or reconstructed, that business or a portion of it is going to come to a complete standstill.
Hard drive failure can have numerous sources, but it normally comes about when the drive has simply worn out. IT departments normally have records of when hard drives were put into service so they can predict hard drive life (based on manufacturer information) and swap out a new drive when needed. But there is an insidious disease that creeps in and can shorten a hard drive life by a third to half, causing hard drive failure ahead of IT’s predictions and causing very unexpected problems for a company. This is the fragmentation disease.
A hard drive is the only component of a computer with mechanical moving parts; a read-write head is constantly moving across the disk platters as files are created, saved, modified and deleted. When a file is fragmented into tens, hundreds or thousands of fragments, access to that file can take a substantial number of I/O requests. Not only is performance slowed down dramatically, but the thrashing about of the disk read-write head removes years of life off of a hard drive, causing it to fail well short of the life IT expected for it.
The only real cure for the fragmentation disease is a completely automatic defragmentation solution that operates invisibly, in the background, consistently keeping files defragmented. Performance is always maximized, and hard drives can operate to their full potential lifespans. No scheduling is ever required, and there is never a negative performance hit from defragmentation.
Best of all, there are never unexpected failures resulting in the interruption or stoppage of business as usual.