It may seem that defrag is only needed on certain systems in a network. For example, a file server has constant read/write activity, so that would be a no-brainer. Perhaps it might also be needed on a mail server, since there is also constant activity going on there. And a company certainly wouldn’t want a database server slowing down because of file fragmentation.
But if you step back and take a look at the larger picture, having some components of a system defragmented while others are not is not a sensible approach. Just take a look at it in basic terms: if server A is defragmented and running smoothly, and is transmitting data to server B which is not, what will be the effect? The extra speed will be hampered, as server B is saving files at a much slower rate. And if server A is accessing data from server B, it will take far longer for server B to provide that data — no matter how quickly server A can process it once it is received.
The same could be said for workstations, PCs and laptops within a network. A user is the one generally working with data once it has been accessed. If that user’s productivity is being slowed by fragmentation on his or her system, the gains obtained by defragmenting a server being accessed by all users are considerably diminished.
The answer then might seem to defrag all systems in a network, so that all are running at maximum performance and reliability. This would be true — but it is also true that if the correct defrag technology is not used, the same effect as only defragging some of the systems will be in play. If defrag is being scheduled, that means that systems must be defragmented when time is available to do so. On today’s servers, this is becoming extremely rare. Also, in between the runs that can be scheduled, fragmentation continues to slow down systems all across the network.
The most cost-effective solution is to implement a fully automatic defrag solution across your entire network — and forget about the fragmentation problem from there on out. Such a solution continuously defragments, in the background, using only otherwise-idle resources. With every system on the network defragmented, the entire enterprise cannot help but run at peak performance for everyone.
So yes, defrag is vital to all systems. But it also must be the correct defrag.