Defragment HDD

Sue Blake sue at
Sun Jul 27 02:27:57 PDT 2003

On Thu, Jul 24, 2003 at 04:30:47PM -0400, Lowell Gilbert wrote:
> "Peter Rosa" <prosa at> writes:
> > OK, but it is not the "real defragmenting" like Norton Speedisk
> > or MS Defrag on windoze machines.
> > Is there anything other ?
> The term doesn't typically refer to quite the same thing on Unix.  No
> defragmentation program of that type is needed, due to different filesystem
> internals.  See the old (but still useful) /usr/share/doc/smm/05.fastfs
> for a bit of a better introduction.

You'd be surprised how common this defrag request is... 
and how useful those old docs can be.

Recently I had the head of IT and the VMS administrator standing
over me and demanding that I defrag the unix servers routinely
once a month, like the VMS guy always does and the Microsoft guy
had agreed to. They'd gone into a dramatically serious little
whisperfest before they marched over and started throwing accusations
and demands, refusing any response that sounded like "but".

Oh they were quite serious, believing that Microsoft and VMS need it
therefore every filesystem does, and they wouldn't accept that it is
unnecessary for unix, no matter what I told them, nor could they
explain to me why the venerable VMS had such a lousy filesystem that
in this day and age it still falls over its feet whenever it gets
fragmented which is often. They were convinced that I just didn't
care about defragmentation or know the right tools to use, and no
amount of reason would shake that. I was, of course, unable to comply
with the manager's parting directive and said so.

While waiting for advice that the room had been booked for my pending
disciplinary interview, I emailed the abovementioned fastfs doc to the
guys concerned, offered to accept an equivalent doc for VMS, and asked
them to explain to me again what "defragging" does when they know how the
unix filesystem works. I have not heard a peep from the manager since,
and not a soul has mentioned filesystems within my earshot again :-)




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