SOURCE: Bruce Boyers Marketing Services

January 06, 2010 15:39 ET

Fragmentation: A Bug or a Feature?

BURBANK, CA--(Marketwire - January 6, 2010) - There was an interesting story recently published on the web about a programmer that took over a development position at a company. Upon assuming his new duties, he noticed several "bugs" in the code of a workflow program, written by his predecessor. He immediately got to work and corrected several of these "bugs" -- only to then be plagued by complaints from users that several "features" of the program had disappeared.

It is obvious that one person's "bug" can be another's "feature." A prime example is file fragmentation. Just ask any IT person who has had to drive herself or himself crazy trying to track down a source of slow performance -- only to discover it was fragmentation. Or another who has spent nights and weekends having to tend to defragmentation in order to keep systems running at a tolerable level. Either of these people would definitely tell you the fragmentation is the worst of "bugs."

Yet if you were to go back in time and find the developer or developers that came up with fragmentation, you'd find that it was definitely viewed as a "feature" that solved the problem of disk space utilization when disk space came at a serious premium. It was such a "solution" that it has been with us ever since.

Today, disks have many times the capacity they had way back when fragmentation first came along. Files are also many times larger, and traffic and reliance on computers is far heavier. Hence, files fragment at much higher rates than they used to.

For many years, defragmentation was the answer. As with all other developments, technology improved greatly over time, finally resulting in a fully automatic defrag solution that worked silently in the background.

Now, however, technology has come full circle. A solution now exists that actually prevents the majority of fragmentation before it ever occurs. The secret is in an intelligent write algorithm that allows for the benefit of disk space utilization without splitting files into a multitude of fragments. The small percentage of fragmentation that still occurs can be easily addressed with fully automatic defragmentation. All in all, it's a very efficient solution.

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.

So is fragmentation a "bug" or a "feature"? The truth is, it is actually both. But with today's fragmentation prevention technology, it no longer matters.

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