SOURCE: Bruce Boyers Marketing Services

November 18, 2008 18:38 ET

Big Disks, Big Fragmentation Problem

BURBANK, CA--(Marketwire - November 18, 2008) - For enormous tasks, you need the right equipment. In a non-computer-related example, moving companies know it all too well. If someone living in a 3-story condo calls for a truck and movers, they're not going to send one guy with a pickup who will basically have to load one piece of furniture, drive to the new house, unload it, drive back and repeat the process for, most likely, several days. No, they're going to send the appropriately-sized van and 5 helpers so the job can get accomplished in the same day. One load up, one unloading. Done.

In the field of computers, the items to be moved aren't solid -- they're made of bits stored on electronic media. But in the last 5 years, electronic files have grown much larger, thanks to multimedia applications, and disk capacities have also grown enormously, now passing the 1 TB mark. But just as the smaller files and smaller drives do, these large drives and bigger files suffer from fragmentation. It's the same file system, NTFS, that saves fragmented files to both -- but the amount of fragmentation is directly proportional to the amount of data being stored.

The solution to file fragmentation is defragmentation, as we all know. But just as with that moving job, you need the appropriate solution. The defragmenter made for your 20 GB drives probably worked fine for them. As drives grew in size, it took increasing amounts of time for this same defragmenter to get the job done, but it did At some point, though, it truly becomes a situation like that of the pickup truck and the 3-story condo full of furnishings. The defragmenter was designed to deal with smaller amounts of data and drive capacities, and is going to become overwhelmed when those limits are greatly exceeded. You may have experienced this yourself: that "one size fits all" defrag technology applied to a terabyte drive cannot do the job and simply grinds on and on for days. The drive never actually becomes defragmented.

Thankfully, defragmentation is now catching up, and the technology now exists to deal squarely with these enormous amounts of data. Defragmentation engines have now been designed specifically to tackle the big jobs -- 1 TB drives and higher -- and actually complete them in a timely manner. And because scheduling has become so difficult on today's servers that must run 24X7, this technology runs completely automatically, in the background, utilizing only otherwise-idle resources. Scheduling is never required, there is never a negative performance hit from defrag, and performance and reliability of these large drives is consistently maximized.

Ensure your company gains the benefit from such drives and that they don't present a whole new performance problem instead. The big disks have a big fragmentation problem -- so make sure your defragmenter is adequate to the job.

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