SOURCE: Bruce Boyers Marketing Services

October 07, 2010 14:41 ET

Fragmentation Prevention on Large Drives

BURBANK, CA--(Marketwire - October 7, 2010) -  Today, drives have grown to enormous sizes. It's hard to believe that seemingly miniscule capacities such as 500KB and 1GB were once considered huge -- but compared with today's terabyte drives, they are tiny.

A question arises from time to time about large drives suffering from fragmentation. There are two main answers to such a question.

First, the size of the container isn't pertinent to the fact that files are files, and are written and read the same way as they always have been -- in a fragmented state. This is a natural function of the file system and is not contingent on the capacity of the hard drive.

Second, it isn't just the sizes of hard drives that have grown dramatically -- it is also the sizes of files themselves. Thanks primarily to audio and video, files today are commonly many times larger than they were just a few short years ago. The larger the file, the more the tendency to fragment.

File fragmentation affects any process accessing a file. When a file is split into hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of fragments, the process or user is going to have to wait until all of those fragments have been accessed. Fragmentation affects all aspects of computing, from common everyday tasks such as word processing and spreadsheets, to larger tasks such as Customer Resource Management (CRM), databases, and backups. It's just a physical fact: if data is in pieces, accessing it will take considerably longer.

Additionally, because of the extra mechanical activity associated with accessing files in multiple fragments, the life of a hard drive is considerably shortened. Other reliability issues, such as unexpected hangs, freezes and crashes, also occur as a result of file fragmentation.

While modern technology has not precluded file fragmentation, it has produced solutions to fragmentation that make dealing with it a matter of simplicity. Not only are there fully automatic solutions that require no scheduling or scheduled maintenance, there is even now a solution that prevents a majority of file fragmentation before it even occurs. In short, it is possible to install such a solution and not have to worry about fragmentation at all from that point forward.

Drives will certainly continue to grow, and so will file sizes. As long as there are physical hard drives, fragmentation will remain a part of life. As long as it does, dealing with it will also be part and parcel of computing. Fortunately, today it's easier than ever.

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