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An Insight into File System Fragmentation in Mac OS X and Third-party Disk Defragmenter for Mac

Disk fragmentation is an age-old concern that has probably plagued each one of us. This problem is undoubtedly a huge worry for those who work in the most demanding business environments that require both performance and productivity. Mac users storing huge volumes of data on their drives face two types of fragmentation, i.e. file fragmentation and free space fragmentation. File fragmentation is a condition where a single file is broken into fragments and then those fragments are stored in various scattered areas on your drive. OS X is pretty good at defragging the files that are less than 20 MB and have more than eight fragments. On the other hand, free space fragmentation is caused due to frequent deletion or truncation of files. When portions of? free space are scattered all over your drive, the new large files that are created also get fragmented.

Mac OS X takes care of this problem by incorporating various built-in safeguards. The Mac HFS+ file system tries to find larger portions of free space on your drive and stores the newly created files at these locations to prevent fragmentation. This ensures that all the recently freed file space is not used while writing new data to the disk. Moreover, the file system follows a practice of accumulating small-sized files in various groups and then storing them together on a larger disk area. Another technique that helps to counter fragmentation is ‘Hot File Adaptive Clustering’. The file system creates a special area called ‘Hot Zone’ on your drive that stores all your frequently-accessed data and programs. In the process, these files get fragmented and saved to a location with the fastest access.

File system fragmentation causes performance implications and other issues. This indeed is a threat to your system reliability, as it results in slow boot-up times, slow shutdown times, slow application response times, and system crashes. There is a range of third-party drive defrag for Mac utilities on the market. These software are more robust and reliable. They use dedicated, proprietary mechanisms to carry out defragmentation on your Mac boot volume or other secondary volumes. These software can show you the allocation of your hard drive space into various levels, such as Allocation, Overflow, Catalog, Attribute, Fragmented, Data, and Unused Space. They enable you to perform full defragmentation of your drive in one go. Furthermore, they support all the latest Mac OS X versions, including Mac OS X Lion, along with 10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.5 Leopard, and 10.4 Tiger.

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