SOURCE: Bruce Boyers Marketing Services

March 31, 2011 13:03 ET

Free: You Get What You Pay For

BURBANK, CA--(Marketwire - March 31, 2011) - It's everybody's favorite word: free. No surprise -- who, when they can, doesn't want to get something for nothing? There are all kinds of sayings to cover such things, however. "There's no such thing as a free lunch." "Nothing is truly free." And of course, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

When it comes to software, free products have abounded for years. Many are trimmed down versions of products that you need to pay for to get the full functionality. Others are trialware versions. Yet others are actually free products -- but as another famous expression goes, "You get what you pay for." As an example, if you're putting together a complex business proposal, you're not going to use free Notepad, you're going to buy and use Microsoft Word, and probably other MS Office products as well. A professional graphic artist manipulating photo images would never think of using a free product such as Paint, he or she is going to spring for Photoshop. The reasoning in both cases is simple -- the functionality just isn't there in the free products.

Another category in which free products are available is that of defragmentation. Fragmentation is the splitting of files into thousands or tens of thousands of pieces (fragments), which natively occurs with the file system. Defragmentation technology was invented long ago to solve this issue by "regrouping" these fragments into as few pieces as possible, to make file access faster. There are many defragmentation solutions still on the market today.

There are also free defragmenters available. Due to the substantial financial losses that fragmentation can cause, especially within an enterprise, to hardware, IT personnel hours and system performance, this sounds like quite a bargain. But again, you get what you pay for -- and in today's computing environments, a free defragmenter won't even come close to addressing the situation.

A basic reason is, simply, that it is a defragmenter. With the many innovations in storage technology that have occurred over the past several years, which include thin provisioning, replication, snapshots, Continuous Data Protection (CDP) and deduplication, to name but a few, an optimization solution more effective and broader in scope than defragmentation is required. Such a solution includes the actual prevention of fragmentation, with which a majority of fragmentation never even happens. It also includes intelligent ordering of files for faster access, and other technologies designed to automatically maximize I/O reads and writes for ideal performance and reliability.

Beyond this, however, a free defragmenter simply cannot deal with the enormous drive capacities, huge files and high rates of fragmentation in today's environments.

You get what you pay for. The relatively little up-front investment made for a true solution saves untold funds and IT hours down the line.

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