SOURCE: Bruce Boyers Marketing Services

July 27, 2011 15:16 ET

Free Software: Getting What You Pay for

BURBANK, CA--(Marketwire - Jul 27, 2011) - There are a couple different categories of free software. First is the "it comes with" variety, in which you actually pay for something, but something else comes with it for free. Some examples are Notepad, which comes with the operating system and is a very basic word processing program. Another would be Microsoft Paint, which can be used for basic illustration and manipulating of photo files.

The second category would include the kind you just find out on the web. In this type you can find just about anything: anti-virus, anti-spyware, video editing, sound editing, database software and many other tools.

The common denominator to the first category is that the free product is so basic that it is no wonder it is given away. The free Notepad will allow you to put words into a file and print them -- but there are no fonts, no templates, no formatting or anything of the kind. The free Paint program contains very basic functionality but no features approaching a level of professional graphics software.

For the second category, the same is also often true. You have to ask yourself: if you had spent years in development and had evolved a truly robust product, would you then give it away for free? Neither would anyone else. The bottom line is: if it's free, it is very probably that you're not getting a professional product.

Both categories include defragmenters. Fragmentation means the splitting of files into pieces, or fragments, for better utilization of disk space. Since fragmentation takes a heavy toll on system performance and reliability, the prospect of a free defragmenter that will address these issues is an attractive one to IT personnel. But anyone looking to utilize one of these free defragmenters should pay careful attention; the major issue would be, can the free defragmenter perform in today's computing environments and really improve performance?

If it only performs defragmentation, that is your first clue. In modern environments, more than defragmentation is required to address the issue of I/O reads and writes. Innovations such as thin provisioning, replication, snapshots, Continuous Data Protection (CDP) and deduplication, to name but a few, mean that an optimization solution is required to address a broader range of issues than fragmentation only.

Free products also have severe limitations and cannot stand up to the drive capacities, file sizes and high fragmentation rates of today's systems.

A proper optimization solution does address fragmentation by preventing a majority of it before it ever occurs. Quite in addition, however, it includes intelligent ordering of files for faster access, and other advanced technologies designed to automatically maximize system performance and reliability.

You get what you pay for. The relatively small up-front payment for a true solution means the problems will be adequately addressed from that time forward.

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