October 2000

"A foolish consistency is the petty hobgoblin of small minds." - Emerson

According to Network World Fusion magazine of August 7, 2000, U.S. businesses could save up to $50 billion dollars a year -- yes, that is Billion with a capital B -- simply by defragmenting their hard drives. Fifty billion dollars is a lot of money, even split up among thousands of companies. But even if companies regularly defragged their hard drives, they could save far more money by avoiding the issue altogether.

Fragmentation is caused when a computer operating system stores a file onto a storage medium in pieces instead of in one contiguous chunk. This is caused by "brain-dead" file systems that begin storing a file in the first empty space, ignorant of whether the entire file will fit in that space or not. As soon as the space is filled, the file system makes a note of that fact, searches the drive for the next open space, and continues attempting to store the rest of the file there. This process continues until eventually the entire file is stored on the hard drive -- perhaps in 20 or 30 pieces!! Reading the file back into memory will require the hard drive searching and reading over and over in order to gather up and reassemble all the little pieces.

This process of reading and writing a file in many small pieces is a very time-consuming series of events. Instead of one or two "seek" operations, the drive heads must glide back and forth to read in all of the pieces, or to write the fragments all over the place. Not only does this slow down performance dramatically (especially after a few months of constant tangling and jumbling), but it also causes a heavy burden of wear and tear on the hard drive components, both from the physical movements of the heads as well as the extra heat associated with this mindless and inefficient process.

As a result, companies lose billions of dollars in downtime from damaged equipment, wasted time from waiting for hard drive activity, and even lost data from the associated failures. Perhaps the fifty billion dollars of annual loss referenced above is actually a low, conservative estimate. Companies even waste money with unnecessary hard drive and CPU and RAM upgrades in a vain effort to overcome the ancient software technologies which cause this fragmentation, only to find that a few months' worth of file activity has regressed system performance yet again.

How can companies save the $50 billion without wasting time running the wimpy defragmentation programs bundled with Windows, or sold in the marketplace? As I mentioned before, simply avoiding the issue solves the problem nicely. Companies merely have to choose a modern, high-tech operating system that prevents file fragmentation in real-time, by using look-ahead algorithms to store files in a few large chunks instead of dozens of tiny ones. Outstandingly, this means IBM OS/2 Warp and the HPFS file system.

The High Performance File System (HPFS) is free with every copy of OS/2 as well as Serenity's eCS OS. This means that nobody ever again has to waste money buying a better defragger (Microsoft's built-in defraggers are abominable wastes of time), nor must they waste time waiting for the defrag process. OS/2 wisely keeps files neat and orderly instead of in a chaotic mess as they are with Windows -- all flavors of Windows.

Once again, OS/2 Warp is the idea choice from the perspective of performance, as well as with increased uptime, lower costs, and longer equipment life. But the foolish "small minds" at most companies continue to beat their heads against the wall, spending billions of unnecessary dollars downgrading to Windows and then replacing damaged hardware or simply waiting... waiting... waiting. Emerson had it right -- sticking to the same old tired, brain-dead products from Microsoft will come back to haunt you. And $50 billion a year is a heavy price to pay for having weak minds in charge of corporate America. $50 billion would buy an awful lot of copies of OS/2.

Most recent revision: September 30, 2000
Copyright © 2000, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.