SOURCE: Boyers Marketing

December 20, 2007 07:30 ET

Scheduled Defragmentation: Is It Enough?

GLENDALE, CA--(Marketwire - December 20, 2007) - An argument is now occurring in the defragmentation world: does it take continuous work on a disk to keep it defragmented, or can it be effectively done periodically, scheduled in a specified time window? One might think the answer depends on which defragmentation solution provider you're talking to -- but real-world challenges and disk activity can actually shed light on the truth of the matter.

In a laboratory environment, a disk with fragmented files can be defragmented during a specified time and be shown to have been effectively defragmented. But this laboratory environment has a few key differences between itself and the real world -- not the least among them being the fact that in the real world, disk access and file fragmentation is constant. An ancient law of physics tells us that the only constant is change, and this is never more true than in regards to the data residing on disk drives. What is occurring between these scheduled defrag runs? Is the disk remaining perpetually defragmented? Of course not. Fragmentation begins right away following the defragmentation run and continues to increase until the next scheduled run. And with today's technology and with constant access, that fragmentation -- and its impact on performance -- can be significant.

In contrast to the scheduled approach, a recent breakthrough in defragmentation technology allows defragmentation to occur automatically, transparently, whenever idle system resources are available. This means that the defragmentation solution is far more equipped to keep up with the ever-changing state of a disk drive -- in short, it is changing as the fragmented state of the files is changing. Fragmentation is consistently addressed, and disk performance and reliability are kept at maximum.

Another aspect of the "scheduled" approach is that it is actually outmoded in today's computing environment. With much of today's business being globalized, access to many servers is 24X7. So when can defragmentation be scheduled in such a way that it won't impact users? The answer: it can't. Perhaps it can be scheduled when the least number of users are accessing a server -- but users are obviously still being affected.

The new breakthrough defragmentation method requires no scheduling, as its defragmentation does not impact system performance while it is running, hence does not affect users at all. This is an approach better geared to today's demanding environment.

In addition, IT staff time is required to analyze an enterprise's disk drives and schedule defragmentation. With today's shortage of experienced IT personnel, scheduling defragmentation is hardly a worthy activity.

The scheduled approach to defragmentation may have worked once, when disk activity was far less hectic and there was significant downtime in which defragmentation could take place. But with today's constant access and file fragmentation, it can be easily shown to be an insufficient solution.

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