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Last modified: Thursday, November 13, 2003 

A group of disk sectors. The operating system assigns a unique number to each cluster and then keeps track of files according to which clusters they use. Occasionally, the operating system marks a cluster as being used even though it is not assigned to any file. This is called a lost cluster. You can free up disk space by reassigning lost clusters, but you should first make sure that the clusters do not, in fact, contain valuable data. In DOS and Windows, you can find lost clusters with the ScanDisk utility.

DOS and Windows keep track of clusters with the File Allocation Table (FAT). The size of each cluster depends on the disk's partition size.

Also see clustering.

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Hard Disk Logical Structures and File Systems 
Describes "standard" file systems used on PCs, with particular focus on the FAT file system and its variants. This page is from "The PC Guide."

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related categories

Data Management

Disk Drives

related terms

file allocation table


lost cluster




slack space

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