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The Hidden Cost of File Fragmentation

Most if not all system administrators are aware of file fragmentation–the fact that modern operating systems, in order to better utilize disk space, save files in pieces (fragments). They are probably also aware of the fact that, unchallenged, file fragmentation can considerably slow performance. What they may not know, however, is just how insidious file fragmentation can be, how much it can permeate a company, and most importantly, if not addressed with the latest defragmentation technology, how it can rack up costs in lost production and personnel time.

A slow system naturally means slow production. Fragmentation’s effects can be felt right from the very opening of an application right through to the use and response of that application. Common corporate applications such as word processing programs, databases and email are all negatively affected–not to mention the individual files accessed for those applications. Multiply slow system response by the number of employees in an enterprise, and you can readily see that the loss in production can be substantial.

When fragmentation becomes serious, it can go even further than simply slowing down a computer; the computer can “hang”, causing production to stop altogether. Impatient users might even reboot their own systems in an effort to bypass the hang, and even more time is lost.

In an effort to counter fragmentation, restore lost performance and increase production, many sites have turned to scheduled defragmentation solutions. The problem is that in today’s computing environments scheduled defragmentation is only a partial solution. Right after the defragmenter runs, fragmentation is lessened. But in between defragmenter runs, fragmentation continues to compound, and in some cases the defragmenter may not even be addressing the fragmentation at all. This is becoming more and more true with today’s higher-capacity disks and enormous file sizes.

Further, many sites are now operating 24X7 to accommodate globalized business activity and web access. Hence, “time windows” in which to run a defragmenter during a time when it won’t negatively impact performance itself are quickly disappearing.

Additionally, scheduled defragmentation is also costing a company production time for IT personnel having to regularly perform fragmentation analysis and scheduling. It really is a case of a solution becoming a problem.

The only real answer to eliminating file fragmentation and fully restoring computer use efficiency to an enterprise is a totally automatic defragmentation solution, one which requires no scheduling and one which will run any time idle resources are available. In this way, computer performance and reliability–as well as employee efficiency–can be constantly maximized.

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