Optimizing Disk I/O Performance

Optimizing Disk I/O Performance

From Essential Windows NT System Administration by Aeleen Frisch, O'Reilly and Associates, 1998.

Disk I/O can be a major performance bottleneck that can affect a system or individual job. In this tip we will look at some of the factors that can affect disk I/O performance.

  • Filesystem fragmentation degrades I/O performance. Fragmentation results when the free space within a filesystem is scattered in small chunks, rather than fewer large ones of the same total size. This means that files themselves become fragmented (noncontiguous), and access times to reach them become correspondingly longer.

    Filesystem fragmentation tends to increase over time. Eventually, it will be necessary to defragment the filesystem. There are currently several commercially available utilities designed for this purpose.

  • Sequential access of large files (i.e., reading or writing, starting at the beginning and moving steadily toward the end) is most efficient when the files are contiguous: made up of a single, continuous chunk of space on a disk. It may be necessary to defragment or even rebuild a filesystem to create a large amount of contiguous disk space.

  • Disk I/O to large sequentially accessed files is also improved by disk striping.

  • Placing large, randomly accessed files (e.g., databases)

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