This “computer disease” may be responsible for more computer illnesses than the better known threat of viruses or spyware. The reason? Lack of protection.
Figures vary, but it is estimated that there are over 700 million computers currently in-use around the globe as of this writing. And believe it or not, each and every one of those computers have a “disease” growing within that will eventually and inevitably shorten the lifespan of the system. This “computer cancer” as it has come to be known is fragmentation.
What many people don’t realize — be they corporate executives, IT directors, system administrators, or home users — is that fragmentation cannot be stopped. Because of its insidious nature, it is easy to ignore, but the reality is that many common computer problems are, in fact, disk fragmenting problems.
For those not familiar with this term, fragmentation is the scattering of data across the hard drive in such a way that it is difficult to retrieve. When information is written to hard drives, the operating systems look for available space in which to store the data. Because it usually won’t fit as one continuous unit, this means that the files are going to have to be split up and stored in different sections on the drive.
Networks, servers, and virtual systems are especially susceptible to this problem because fragmentation is the weak-link in these types of systems. The exponential increase of information handling in any type of multi-station work environment puts a tremendous strain on resources. Like a cancer, the broken off bits of data begin to clog up the works, and every action begins to become painfully slow. Programs take forever to load. Save times become longer and longer. Running an anti-virus or spyware scan takes forever.
All the while, the hard drive and the read/write heads get severely overworked. As the hardware becomes worn and less efficient, data begins to be lost and corrupted. As a result, network managers and IT staff are forced into costly early replacements of equipment that has expired before its time.
Unfortunately, most users and administrators don’t realize that fragmentation is every bit as deadly as viruses — perhaps even more so because the problem doesn’t get as much press and tends to fly under the radar – and thus users leave themselves wide-open and completely unprotected.
Perhaps the biggest irony is that a high level of protection is readily available, and the number of computer problems that most of us experience could be drastically reduced by taking advantage of today’s defragmentation software.
Fragmentation does harm, but it doesn’t have to. The best advice is to download a top-of-the-line defragmenter and see for yourself.