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Defragmentation: Making the Most of the Weakest Link

As anyone who has been around computers for very long knows, performance is the goal of both hardware and software developments. How can work be done faster? The competitive race between chip manufacturers to get out a faster processor occurs at breakneck speed. Memory has become cheap enough that it can be utilized in great quantity to hold as much data and processes in memory as possible. Data is cleverly spread across drives to make access faster. Millions of dollars are poured into operating systems just to get them to perform more efficiently.

The interesting fact of the matter, though, is that much of this high-tech complex tweaking is done in an attempt to bypass that part of a computer system that never really speeds up: the hard drive. While drives certainly have become faster over time, their speed has still remained far far behind the electronic components of memory and processors. The reason is a simple one: a hard drive is a physical, mechanical operation. Platters must spin, and a head must physically move across them to read data.

It is unfortunate that in addition to the fact that hard drives operate at a tiny fraction of the speed of electronics, the data saved on them is fragmented. A file can be split into tens, hundreds, even thousands of fragments. Every one of those fragments requires a disk I/O operation to retrieve it. The weakest link is made even weaker by fragmentation.

Many companies and computer users have coped with this problem with scheduled defragmentation. A schedule could be set for each drive at times when computers weren’t in use, and fragmented files could be “put back together” again. Some performance could be restored and disk access times could at least approach their native speeds.

The problem today is that enormous files, greatly increased disk capacities and out-of-control fragmentation rates are outpacing scheduled defragmentation. In between runs, fragmentation is continuing to build.

Today’s demanding computing environments require a fully automatic defragmentation solution, one which requires no scheduling and, more importantly, defragments whenever idle system resources are available with no negative impact on performace. In this way peak performance is constantly maintained.

As long as computers store fragmented data on hard drives, those drives will be “the weakest links” in the system. Fully automatic defragmentation is the answer to keeping them as fast as possible.

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