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Subject: A Simple Tool to Create Green, Lean Computing Machines
(Posted on Jul 7, 2010 at 11:59AM)

Tags: green computing, eco computing
The flow of digital information running through today's enterprises is like a faucet that never turns off. It's amazing how human beings have adapted to the blazing speed of technology. Yet it's frustrating because at the same time, our new computers eventually become slower to boot up, they crash and involve lengthy and painful interactions with technical support. They also become energy hogs.
Rather than fix the problem, too many of us prefer to simply replace the machine. That's not good from a green standpoint -- it's neither cash-wise nor eco-wise.

Most people think it's a memory problem. It's not. Every system, every network and every company suffers the effects of fragmentation -- and there is a solution.
Resolving Computer User Headaches
By defragmenting a computer or server, you can create a "green, lean computing machine" that will save time, money, and reduce energy costs.
File fragmentation has long been a headache for computer users. In an enterprise with large numbers of computers, workers with poorly performing systems will start begging for new ones, incorrectly blaming problems on the operating system and ratcheting up costly, time-consuming trouble tickets with the IT staff. Magnify that by a 1,000 workstations and you can quickly see this would capture the CFO's attention.
Fragmentation requires the hard drive to take more time and power because of the effort it takes to read data. Backing up a fragmented volume might take four hours, whereas a defragmented volume might take only 3 hours, allowing the system to return to an idle, or less busy, state one hour sooner.
Mitigating fragmentation lessens power consumption, optimizes system boot times and improves disk access speeds. As organizations seek ways to cut back on energy use, and trim costs it's important to consider the significant positive impact that defragmentation can have in saving precious kilowatts to reduce the carbon footprint.
The return on investment can be substantial. Preventing fragmentation results in reduced help desk calls as a defragmented system is more reliable and stable and resolves long or aborted boot times, slow or aborted back ups, file corruption, system and program hang ups, system freezes and other system errors. Enterprises can avoid unnecessary maintenance time spent by employees, but can also reduce energy and cooling costs by maximizing system efficiency.
If disks do not have to work hard reading or writing fragmented files to the disk, they're spinning less, consuming less power and generating less heat. Further, with less use, drives will last longer, providing a better ROI for companies and reducing overall hardware costs.
Systems that operate reliably and without complaint are less likely to be replaced. They'll be used until new production requirements dictate more powerful hardware, which is a real business reason to upgrade and not a "break-fix" reactive replacement. All of these factors plan into enabling enterprises to postpone refresh costs and the attendant overhead that goes with it.
A computer typically stores files in a file system as one or more allocation units, depending on the size of the file and the size of the allocation unit on the volume in question. As files get written, erased and rewritten, it may not be possible to write a file to a completely contiguous series of empty allocation units. One part of a file may be stored in one part of a disk, the rest of it somewhere else. In extreme cases, it may be scattered quite widely. This scattering is called file fragmentation.
Fragmented hard drives wreak havoc on a computer's operating efficiency, slowing down applications. Every system, every network, every company suffers from the effects of fragmentation. When fragmentation occurs, the system is wasting precious I/O (Input/Output) resources by writing fragmented files to cluttered spaces on the disk.
The more fragmented a file, the more work the computer has to do to read it. Usually, this comes down to how fast the hard drive can seek a specific sector and read the allocation units in question. If the computer has to read several fragmented files at once, the number of disk head movements and the amount of contention for disk access will go up -- and the computer slows down.
The Good News
Fortunately, there is new technology available that solves the problem by intelligently writing files to disks and preventing file fragmentation from occurring in the first place. This helps IT workers avoid the task of manually defragging or performing ongoing ongoing maintenance. By preventing fragmentation, you can reduce disk write activity and make read activity more efficient which reduces power costs. In addition, with virtual machine support for server consolidation plans, fewer servers translate into less energy use and reduced power costs.
Using the 1,000 computers example, a fragmentation prevention solution can cost on average about $25,000 for software licenses. The annual savings in time value by shortening boot ups can be $16,000. Also, by extending the life of a machine an extra year beyond three years can result in another net savings of $19,000. Reducing help desk traffic by just ten percent can yield tens of thousands more. Reducing the need to replace hard drives can also recoup a third of the cost of the software licenses. Added together, these savings easily justify the purchase of the solution -- and don't forget the savings in energy costs to be a greener organization.
If you think about it, fragmentation requires a computer hard drive to work extra hard to put files together, it takes a lot more energy, more time to read a whole file, to retrieve different fragments of the file from different parts of the disk. By making your computers and servers free of fragments you'll realize the benefits of green, lean computing machines. By extending the longevity of your hard disks, you will ensure top device performance and ensure peace of mind for you, your staff and your thankful IT department.
As much as I would have liked to have written this article, I didn't.  I found it at  Greenercomputing.com
A Simple Tool to Create Green, Lean Computing Machines
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