Q

Is it harmful to run Win2k Disk Defragmenter on Exchange 2000 server drives?

Hi, Scott. The Windows 2000 Disk Defragmenter analysis of our Exchange 2000 Server indicates extreme fragmentation. A run of the Analysis recommends defragmenting. I have seen articles that say to never defragment drives housing Exchange 5.5.

I realize Exchange 2000 manages its "internal" fragmentation at the application level during off-hours. I was wondering about the OS perspective. Is there harm in running the Windows 2000 Disk Defragmenter on our Exchange 2000 server drives? If there is no harm, should the services be shut down beforehand?

Thanks for your help.

Every once in a while this question pops up. The fact is, there are differing opinions. My personal opinion is that you don't need to defragment the drive containing the Exchange databases using a file system-based defragmentation tool. However, other professionals disagree with this and they do believe there is some benefit in using a file system-based defrag tool to do this.

I should point out though that the folks I have talked to who think it's ok to do this all work for a software company that sells defragmentation software. I'm not saying that they are trying to sell you something you don't need; I'm just remarking that I have yet to encounter any experienced professional that does not work for a defrag software company who thinks its okay to do this. They claim this can be done while the databases are online and that the defrag APIs make it a safe thing to do. I personally have never tried this, so I don't know whether or not it's safe.

If you think you're Exchange system will benefit from defragmentation, then you should first experiment in a lab environment so that you can see for yourself what the process is like, whether or not any harm was done, and whether or not the process provided any benefits.

This was first published in February 2002

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