SOURCE: Bruce Boyers Marketing Services

September 29, 2010 07:24 ET

Yes, Fragmentation Is Still a Serious Issue

BURBANK, CA--(Marketwire - September 29, 2010) -  The advances made in computing in the last ten years have been remarkable. One yardstick that can be used is that of price versus performance: hardware costs have plummeted, while performance has skyrocketed. One question that can arise: with all the innovation now with us, is file fragmentation still a problem that must be addressed?

It would seem that such a fundamental issue would have long-since vanished. Drive speeds have increased many times through the years, and we now have sophisticated redundant-drive systems, helping protect data like never before, and making access far faster. The cost of memory has dropped so radically that plentiful memory is now common, making more data than ever available for near-instant access. Network speeds have gone out the roof, especially with the advent of inexpensive, high-bandwidth cable and routers. Overall, the performance bar has been raised again and again.

But beneath all the technological innovations, there is still one hard-and-fast fact. Data is saved to hard drives the way it always has been -- in a fragmented state. As long as hard drives exist, this will probably always be the case, for it's the method by which file systems utilize disk space. So yes, fragmentation is still with us, but with one marked difference: it is more plentiful than ever.

Drives have become enormous -- it's hard to believe that once upon a time a 500 kilobyte drive was considered large. Today, multi-terabyte drives are the norm. So too have grown file sizes -- where tiny 1KB files were common in yesteryear, today they average in the multi-MB range. The result for fragmentation is that it is not uncommon today to see files fragmented into thousands, tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of fragments.

Such amounts of fragmentation can only mean that a computer is having to put in serious overtime gathering every bit of every file whenever that file is accessed. It impacts performance while processes and users wait for data, and it impacts hardware life since hard drives -- the only computer components with mechanical moving parts -- must perform many times the movements needed to retrieve or save a file.

One added point is that such a serious performance problem requires a robust solution. The technology used to deal with yesterday's fragmentation doesn't have a prayer of standing up to today's frantic fragmentation rates. In fact, today a majority of fragmentation can actually be prevented before it occurs, fully automatically.

So yes, fragmentation is still a serious issue that should always be addressed in computer systems everywhere.

Contact Information