Wednesday, March 16, 2011

When “Free” Actually Costs More

This might have happened to you: You’re off on a resort vacation that you’ve looked forward to for months, in some tropical paradise. You’re dreamily exploring the resort on the first day, and you come across a person who offers you a free champagne brunch, for you and your spouse. You think, great! A free high-end meal! When you get there, though, you realize how free it isn’t. The food is great—but you have to sit there for two hours listening to a sales pitch on condo sharing. And for the rest of your vacation, some salesman is pursuing you all over the resort, popping up every time you turn around, trying to close you on buying into his “great plan.” That “free brunch” was anything but—it put a serious damper in your dream vacation, which you paid substantial money to take.

In the world of computing, the same could be said for a free or inexpensive defrag utility. Yes, it costs little to nothing at the outset—but defragmentation is a serious performance problem, and soon you’re going to have to run that utility. The first problem you’re going to have is, it needs to be scheduled. Most corporate systems need to be up and running constantly, so finding a time window in which to schedule defragmentation is a major problem. And, the time that the system is offline is the first major cost of the free or inexpensive utility.

When you finally can schedule and run it, you find out that it runs, and runs, and runs, consuming system resources the whole while, and never seems to actually complete a defrag job. If you add up the number of hours that IT staff have spent trying to get useful work out of this utility, you’ll come across the second major cost of this utility.

There are third-party solutions to fragmentation that are far more efficient. In fact, technology has now evolved to the point that a majority of fragmentation can actually be prevented before it even occurs—completely automatically, and with no impact on system resources. The I/O resources required to defragment files after they have already been fragmented are saved, and peak performance is constantly maintained.

Now, compare the price of the of the free or “low-cost” utility to the third-party solution. There is an initial cost for the third-party solution—but once it is installed and running, fragmentation is basically a thing of the past. The net result: the bargain utility actually costs far more.

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