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Allocation Unit - Definition

An Allocation Unit is the smallest amount of disk space that can be allocated to hold a file. All file systems used by Windows organize hard disks based on allocation units. The smaller the allocation unit size, the more efficiently a disk drive can store its information. If you do not specify an allocation unit size when formatting the disk, Windows picks default sizes based on the size of the volume. These default sizes are selected to reduce the amount of space that is lost and the amount of fragmentation on the volume. An allocation unit is also called a cluster. When referring to computer memory, an allocation is a process preformed by the computer that assigns a block of memory for a program to store its information.

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