As we discussed in our prior article, the QuickBooks company file can become fragmented in a couple of ways. Disk fragmentation occurs when the Windows operating system1 cannot create or insert new information into the file in one logically contiguous space. Because Windows does not restrict the writing of data to only contiguous areas of your disk, fragmentation will increase as the total amount of data on your disk drive increases. Database fragmentation results, among other causes, from the way new data may be inserted into data pages holding tables and other database objects.
Any method that compresses the QuickBooks data can reduce or eliminate fragments; in effect, the ‘spaces or gaps’ are squeezed out as the data is compressed. Sometimes simply making a Windows copy of the data will compress the file and reduce the number of db fragments, but on many occasions this has little effect.
Creating a Portable Company File and then restoring that file is one effective way to reduce database fragments. QuickBooks permits creation of a highly compressed version of the data file know as a Portable Company File (file type *.QBM). This file was intended for use in transferring files via email, but a noted benefit is the extent of file compression, which can be as high as a 10 to 1 ratio, the process produces; however most Portable Company Files are from 40 to 60% of their original size.
Compression of the file is accomplished, in part, through removal of all indexes within the data structure; this process frequently removes fragmentation within the database itself as well. When a Portable Company File is restored, QuickBooks builds new indexes for the file not only improving file efficiency, but many times leaving the database free of fragmentation.
Because of disk fragmentation, the hard drive’s disk head must repeatedly move back and forth over the disk when reading and writing various parts of the file. The more the disk head moves from one area to another, the less efficient it becomes, thus lengthening the time QuickBooks takes in finding your data.
To correct disk fragmentation, Windows computers include a Disk Defragmentation Utility to rewrite files to contiguous space on the hard drive. QuickBooks users almost always see an increase in the speed of file access and data retrieval after
Defragmenting a Windows 71 Computer
- From the Windows Orb or Start button, click All Programs.
- Now open the Accessories folder, and then the Systems Tools folder.
- Click Disk Defragmenter and select the Drive you want to defragment.
- Click Analyze. Windows displays the analysis and informs you if you need to perform defragmentation.
- To defragment the selected drive(s), click the Defragment Disk button. After the process is complete, the results will be displayed.
- To display more detailed information, click View Report.
- Click Close, to close the Disk Defragmenter.
Windows 81 Hard Drive Optimization
The Windows 8 Optimize (hard drives) feature includes Defragmentation as well as Trim optimization and Slab consolidation. The optimization procedures performed by this feature depend on the type of drive being optimized. Windows will select the optimization processes that are right for your computer’s drive(s).
To briefly explain these processes, defragmentation rearranges fragmented data to permit the drive to work more efficiently. Trim optimization is a process that informs Windows about which blocks of data are no longer in use; this allows the storage to optimize space and performance for future use. Slab consolidation rearranges data from sparsely populated slabs to densely populated slabs for thinly provisioned drives.
- To optimize your hard drive, open Search and type Defragment.
- Tap or click Defragment and optimize your drive(s).
- Select the Type of Drive you want to optimize under Media type in the Optimize Drives dialog, and
- Tap or click Optimize and follow the prompts that appear on-screen.
Note: The Defragmentation and Optimization process can take from several minutes to several hours depending on the size of the drive and optimizations being performed.
Fragmentation Prevention and Perpetual Drive Optimization
The best treatment for fragmentation is ‘prevention’, and in my opinion the best way to accomplish this is to use sophisticated software designed to prevent fragmentation and optimize and accelerate the processes of accessing and writing data. In my consulting practice we recommend the line of Diskkeeper Software Products by Condusiv2. The specific products we use depend upon the types of hardware and operating systems being used by our clients.
For computers running ‘physical servers’:
Condusiv’s Diskeeper Professional2 software prevents degradation in Windows performance by eliminating nearly all fragmentation from occurring at the Windows level before files are written in a performance-penalized state. With its patented, proactive IntelliWrite® technology, Diskeeper keeps client laptops and workstations running like new, resulting in increased productivity.
For Windows physical servers Diskeeper Server2 is an ideal solution, proactively preventing performance-robbing fragmentation. Diskeeper’s patented, proactive IntelliWrite® technology prevents split I/Os from being created at the time files are written—reducing the amount of I/O pushed through the server and storage, and resulting in increased productivity and lower costs by extending the useful life of existing hardware. Typical defragmentation utilities, like those included in Windows, consume resources to operate and deal with fragmentation only after the performance penalty has already been incurred, Diskeeper is the only proactive solution that solves the problem in real-time while running transparently in the background. Without Diskeeper, files are scattered around a volume instead of written in one place. Diskeeper’s IntelliWrite optimizes writes and subsequent reads by writing data sequentially, reducing seek time and the number of I/Os required to write a file or access it.
For ‘virtual’ machines and servers:
V-locity VM / VM Server2 acceleration software allows applications, including complex databases like QuickBooks, to run faster in virtualized environments. By optimizing I/O as close to the application as possible, at the OS level, only productive I/O traffic is pushed through the server, network and storage, resulting in significant application performance boosts. An enormous amount of I/O traffic is completely unnecessary. By optimizing I/O at the source, before it gets pushed through the server, network and storage, performance issues are eliminated across the infrastructure. V-locity uniquely addresses the unnecessary I/O patterns of reads and writes by aggregating data on writes to perform sequentially while caching reads on available server memory without contention to the application. As a result, V-locity boosts application performance by (1) maximizing the efficiency of every single I/O from write requests that leave the server and (2) caching the most active data from read requests using available server memory.
While fragmentation can be resolved using a variety of methods, it is best prevented using specialized software designed for that purpose. For large QuickBooks files, running on demanding networks, the types of prevention and optimization afforded by these specialized products make them extremely valuable, in my opinion, to organizations demanding peak performance and minimal file disruptions.
1- Windows operating system, Windows, Windows 7, and Windows 8, are all products and registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052
2- Diskkeeper, Diskkeeper Server, V-locity VM and V-locity VM Server are all products and registered trademarks, and IntelliWrite is a registered trademarked technology, of Condusiv Technologies, 7590 N. Blenoaks Blvd., Burbank, CA 91504.