SOURCE: Bruce Boyers Marketing Services

August 17, 2010 15:15 ET

The Hidden Price of "Free"

BURBANK, CA--(Marketwire - August 17, 2010) -  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The owner of a piano store once illustrated this extremely well by placing a piano lamp on top of one of his more expensive grand pianos, hung with a large sign that said, "Buy the lamp, get the piano free!" In very small print at the bottom of the sign, it said, "Price of lamp: $20,283."

The lesson to be learned is that before you bite on a free or inexpensive deal that looks too good to be true, examine all the angles. Discover if there are any hidden costs associated with it. This is especially important if it's something you're counting on.

A prime example is a low-cost or free defragmenter. File fragmentation is a prime barrier to computer performance, and every IT person knows it's something that must be addressed. If not, it's going to cause a myriad of problems, including slow access times, slowed or failed backups, system hangs, disk crashes and hardware failing before its time. System personnel will therefore have to account in some way for making sure file fragmentation isn't a problem.

In these economic times, an offer of a free or very cheap defragmenter will then be one that seems hard to refuse. But look closely at that defragmenter's functionality, and test it for yourself. Will it complete defrag jobs with the result of a defragmented drive? Does it also address free space fragmentation (very important for write performance)? Does it require so many system resources that users cannot access the system when it is running? Is it up to the task of defragmenting servers? Will it require costly system administration time to operate?

It can be easily seen that if the answer to one or more of these questions is "yes" that this solution is certainly no longer "free" and quickly ceases to be "inexpensive." In the long run, it is going to cost many times what a third-party solution -- actually meant for enterprises and highly capable of eliminating the fragmentation problem -- would have cost to begin with.

Technology is even available today that prevents a majority of fragmentation from occurring in the first place. It functions automatically and in the background, so users can be working on the system the whole while. It requires no administration once it is up and running. Best of all, it results in a system that is free of fragmentation -- and has its performance and reliability maximized. For the initial outlay of the price of the solution, it pays for itself many times over.

Don't fall for a solution that's too cheap to get the job done, only to pay far beyond the full price later. Make sure your solution is up to the task at hand.

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