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15.3. Disk Defragmenter

When you save a new file, Windows records its information onto the hard drive in small pieces called blocks. On a new PC, Windows lays the blocks end-to-end on the hard drive surface. Later, when you type more data into a document (thus enlarging it), the file no longer fits in the same space. Windows XP puts as much of the file in the original location as can fit, but may have to store a few of its blocks in the next empty spot on the hard drive.

Ordinarily, you'll never even notice that your files are getting chopped up in this way, since they open promptly and seamlessly. Windows keeps track of where it has stored the various pieces, and reconstitutes them when necessary.


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