Most computer users can remember the hours spent waiting for their hard drive to defragment, watching the progress bar move and then stop for seemingly no reason as files were moved, rewritten and copies deleted. For a business, a physically fragmented hard drive can mean time lost as file requests take longer, applications run more slowly, and sometimes the entire system halts for seconds at a time.
The increasing use of virtual private servers and VPS hosting has led many companies to believe that this fragmentation is no longer an issue as the data is stored in a cloud platform rather than on a physical server and that it must, by its very nature, be properly stored.
Just as with physical media, however, a VPS also has to deal with file fragmentation and often in a way that makes its response even slower than that of a standard system if steps are not taken to deal with it at the outset. In a virtualized server, multiple file requests from guest users are constantly coming in, and there is always a certain amount of lag time between the initial guest request, the host request, and the file being found. If files in a virtualized system are fragmented, the guest and host requests become duplicated as many times as there are fragments, greatly lowering the overall speed of both reading and writing.
Fortunately, a number of companies have developed non-resource intensive software solutions to this fragmentation issue, many of them addressing the problem by simply preventing file fragmentation from the outset. So long as a file is written once upon its first writing and access is properly controlled, virtual fragmentation and slowdown can be kept to a bare minimum.