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Fragmentation, in the context of a hard disk, is a condition in which the contents of a single file are stored in different locations on the disk rather than in a contiguous space. This results in inefficient use of storage space as well as occasional performance degradation. Users frequently create, modify, delete and save files. Back-end operating systems (OS) continuously store these files on hard drives, which inevitably creates scattered files. When fragmentation occurs, the OS needs to consolidate stored files to enhance processing efficiency.
Fragmentation, which happens when the contents of a single file are stored in a non-contiguous space, occurs three forms: