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Maximize Mail Server Disk Performance

Fragmentation Affects the Reliability and Response Time of Every Corporate Mail Server

It’s common knowledge that communication is the lifeblood of any successful organization. In this day and age, it’s no surprise that even businesses that offer products or services that are desired, will still fail due to lack of reliable e-mail technology. Of course, what may surprise you is that proper implementation of disk performance software can prevent this.

Whether your mail servers run Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino or QUALCOMM Eudora, it will eventually experience “internal” fragmentation of its data. This is because typical e-mail application databases are made up of a large container file that is pre-allocated in size at the point of creation. As the database increases beyond the initial assessment the file becomes fragmented.

Over a period of time, any popular e-mail application server will experience this “internal” fragmentation of its database. This is where records are removed, but the space it occupied within the database is still there and is either reused for a new record or must be skipped over.

Let’s say you have 250,000 records represented in a mail server database. If an individual record (e.g. a deleted e-mail) is removed, the location is simply marked as deleted. In the course of doing business hundreds, perhaps thousands of records are added and deleted. It doesn’t take long for the internal organization of a database file, its indexes, and other related files to quickly become quite disorganized. The speed of locating a particular record or segment of information is directly related to the amount time spent skipping over these holes or internal fragments.

Disk performance software such as Diskeeper 2007 by Diskeeper Corporation, with its InvisiTasking technology, addresses this problem entirely. There are two types of volume-centric fragmentation that Diskeeper addresses: File fragmentation and free space fragmentation.

File fragmentation concerns computer files that are not contiguous, but rather are broken into scattered parts. Free space fragmentation describes a condition in which unused space on a disk is scattered into many small parts rather than a small number of larger spaces. File fragmentation causes problems with accessing data stored in computer files, while free space fragmentation causes problems creating new data files or extending (adding to) old ones.

Mail Server utilities, such as ESE and EDB for Microsoft Exchange, deal with internal record fragmentation by rearranging the internal records/indexes on the fly when possible, and at times, this requires a whole new copy of the database to be created and each record copied to the new file. Even if this copy is done to a freshly formatted volume or a defragmented volume with a free space chunk large enough to contain the entire database, it’s quite likely that this new copy will become fragmented. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to run disk performance software on a daily basis to ensure peak performance from your mail server for many years to come.

Contact: Colleen Toumayan
Email: ctoumayan@diskeeper.com

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