SOURCE: Bruce Boyers Marketing Services

January 06, 2011 07:49 ET

Bigger Drives Mean More Fragmentation

BURBANK, CA--(Marketwire - January 6, 2011) - From time to time, mankind has a tendency to want to make things bigger. Buildings rising up through the clouds. Vehicles that completely dwarf roadside neighbors. Television screens that years back could have graced the wall of a small cinema. For some unknown reason, such developments have a tendency to be looked on with awe... at least at first. Higher buildings have all kinds of issues that must be accounted for, such as wind, earth tremors, and transport of people to and from the ground. Larger vehicles bring serious maneuverability, parking and overhead problems, not to mention fitting into garages. Those enormous television screens are great -- if you can lift them and fit them into an appropriate space where you won't feel like you're suddenly in the Land of the Giants.

In that parade of increasingly large items have come high-capacity hard drives. While amazingly not increasing the form factor size, we now have drives that will hold multi-terabytes of data -- something the mind still has trouble grasping. With that capacity, some seem to think that in addition to having seemingly endless storage space, certain other issues have disappeared as well, such as file fragmentation.

As to the "endless storage space," that might be true if we were still saving the same sizes and roughly the same number of files we were saving several years back. But all that has changed radically; today our reliance on computers is higher than ever, and the sheer number of files has increased dramatically. Thanks to video, audio, graphics and multimedia file types, file sizes have also greatly increased, well over 100 times. Especially in business environments, it will be quickly seen that large drive capacities are indeed not "endless" and will fill up relatively fast.

In the case of file fragmentation, as with files themselves, it is a proportional problem. File fragmentation exists as it always has -- but today, with the huge increase in space and file sizes, fragmentation has increased as well, and is even more of an issue than with smaller drives. More files mean more fragmentation. More space means more area in which file fragments can be written. Larger files mean more fragments per file. It all boils down to the same issues it always has, only worse: slow performance, decreased reliability and shortened drive life.

A fragmentation solution must be able to deal with these increased levels of fragmentation -- which means that, with terabyte and larger drives, technology to address fragmentation must be chosen carefully.

Bigger drives mean more fragmentation. But with the right solution, it need not be an issue at all.

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