SOURCE: Bruce Boyers Marketing Services

June 16, 2008 16:45 ET

Some Not-So-Obvious Symptoms of the Fragmentation Disease

BURBANK, CA--(Marketwire - June 16, 2008) - In non-computer-related fields such as biology and botany, there are countless cases of observed symptoms that have not been traced (or have been wrongly traced) to causes. An example is a recent epidemic of a disease labeled "sudden oak death" in northern California that was killing off California Oaks. The trees seemed to have become defenseless against pests and diseases, and no increase in strength or amount of pesticides or poisons would stem the tide and the oaks continued to die. But after careful study, an ecologist named Dr. Lee Klingler discovered the actual problem: over hundreds of years, the soil had become depleted of the minerals the trees required for proper nutrition. As soon as those minerals were applied, the trees came very suddenly back to life.

There are numerous symptoms in computers that can have incorrect causes assigned, as well. One example is slow response in web browsing. The common "cure" for this symptom is either faster hardware or a faster internet connection. But did you know that slow web browsing can be a symptom of the fragmentation disease?

This is more easily seen in examining the mechanics of web browsing. When a web page is accessed, the files that make up that page are actually downloaded as temporary files onto the computer that's doing the browsing. Those files are then accessed from that computer's hard drive and the page is displayed on the screen.

If that hard drive's files are generally fragmented, that means that any other files loaded onto that drive -- such as those from a web page -- will be fragmented also, as they have to be saved in fragments into the fragmented free space. Access to fragmented files is considerably slower due to the extra I/O traffic needed to retrieve each fragment. This will also slow down access to web sites revisited later; the browser will first look to the hard drive and any elements of the site that exist on the hard drive will be loaded from there rather than downloading them again.

As with the California Oaks, the right cause found reverses the disease. The right defrag solution installed will mean that those files are no longer fragmented, and web browsing will be as fast as possible given the actual hardware limitations. But many times defragmenting will make such a difference that hardware solutions can be delayed or eliminated altogether.

The right defrag solution to assure fast web browsing -- or consistently fast performance in general -- is one that is completely automatic, one that works invisibly, in the background. No scheduling is ever required, there is never a negative performance impact from defragmentation, and performance is maximized from that point forward. Like the trees, your computers -- and your web browsing -- come very much back to life.

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