There is an old expression: “Never bring a boy to do a man’s job.” Crude and politically incorrect though this saying may be, it does convey a truth: if you want to get a task accomplished, make sure the person you assign to it has the necessary know-how to get it done (be they man, woman or juvenile). For example, you wouldn’t bring a high-school student who has just started auto shop classes to make repairs on a passenger jet plane. Or, you wouldn’t put an apprentice fireman in charge of putting out an oil well fire.
Similarly, any software application you employ needs to be adequate to the task at hand. For instance, if you were required to create a full color brochure for your business, you wouldn’t use Microsoft Paint or another free, very basic graphics program. It’s not that any of these are bad products, it’s just that you really need something like Adobe Illustrator to obtain the degree of flexibility, options and detail that the job actually requires.
When it comes to solutions to fragmentation, there are basic, free or inexpensive solutions available as well. Some enterprises seek to cut licensing costs by employing one of these—only to discover down the road that fragmentation is worse than ever, simply because the “solution” they employed was not adequate, and IT costs have spiraled out of control. Again, these aren’t “bad” solutions—they’re just not meant to address the critical levels of fragmentation that occur in today’s corporate computing environments.
The first consideration on evaluating an enterprise-level solution to fragmentation should be, is it enterprise tested and proven? Can it stand up in real-world environments? Read reviews and evaluations. Talk to sites that have used it. Ask them if it really does the job, or if they having to constantly try and tweak it or find “workarounds” to a fragmentation problem that is still persisting.
It’s easy to tell if the utility you’re evaluating isn’t doing the job: check the fragmentation levels before, during and after. See if the utility actually finishes running and accomplishes the job. Many utilities, if they aren’t up to the challenge, will simply grind endlessly without achieving the goal of files in a defragmented state. An adequate solution will eliminate fragmentation and return a system to its native maximum performance.
A third (but no less important) consideration is, how much human intervention is required? Today, technology exists to prevent a majority of fragmentation before it ever occurs—fully automatically. Valuable IT time is not taken up trying to schedule or run a fragmentation solution; the solution is simply employed, and no one needs to worry about fragmentation from there on out. A basic solution will come nowhere near that level of functionality.
File fragmentation can be a costly problem, if not properly addressed. Make sure the solution chosen is truly enterprise-level and does the job.