SOURCE: Bruce Boyers Marketing Services

December 09, 2009 14:33 ET

Fragmentation: Reactive vs. Proactive

BURBANK, CA--(Marketwire - December 9, 2009) - It's interesting that proactive approaches to crises have all been taken after experiencing the results of only applying reactive measures. For example, there is plentiful evidence of the results of improper nutrition and the millions spent on healthcare after the fact. Alarm systems became high-tech when people and companies had had enough of seeing valuables and assets stolen. And after enough forest acreage had been burned due to carelessness, an educational program instituted in grade schools saw a drastic reduction in wildfires.

Although a measure of criticism could be levied in each of these cases for not correctly addressing these problems in the first place, it would not only be unwarranted, but also highly unrealistic. For it's clear that humanity learns by its mistakes, and when the lessons have been truly learned, the solutions generally remain with us.

A prime example within computing would be that of file fragmentation. It was learned early on that file fragmentation -- developed by all OS developers as a solution to utilization of disk space -- caused untold problems with performance and reliability in computer systems. It wasn't long before defrag solutions became basic and mandatory additions to any system. Like everything else, they of course became more refined; at first only manual, then scheduled, and finally fully automatic.

Probably because they have been with us for so long, defrag solutions have been perceived as "proactive." But in the most technical sense, a defragmenter is still "reactive," simply and only because it is addressing fragmentation after the fact of having occurred. By the time fragmentation happens, the system has already wasted I/O resources by writing fragmented files to scattered spaces on the disk, so a toll is already being taken even before a defragmenter goes to work. It wasn't until very recently that a group of astute engineers finally asked the question, "Can fragmentation be prevented in the first place?"

There were obviously technical barriers to be overcome. Fragmentation is a solution to disk space utilization, so an approach to its prevention would have to be done intelligently so that disk space wasn't wasted. There was also a serious question of resource utilization; a solution wouldn't be a solution if it took more resources than were solved by its use.

The good news is, it has finally been done. With fragmentation prevention, system resources are saved in reading files, as well as those saved in writing files in the beginning. Significant savings are also be achieved in energy consumption and cooling -- even more than is done with defrag.

It is clear that fragmentation prevention is the only truly proactive solution to fragmentation. Enterprises and users alike should now make it part and parcel of their system tools.

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