What Are Contiguous Files on My Computer & Can They Be Deleted?

By Skip Shelton

A fragmented file is a single file that is broken up and stored in multiple places on a hard drive.
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Saving a file on a computer results in the file being stored in a semi-permanent location, such as on a hard drive, thumb drive or memory card. When a file such as a document is accessed, the information is retrieved from the storage location. When files are deleted, the reference pointer to the file is removed, allowing the original file information to be over-written.

Fragmented Files

A single file may be stored in fragments or multiple parts on a hard drive or memory device. While the original file may have been stored intact, if additions or changes are stored in other physical areas on the drive, the file is considered "fragmented." Fragmented files can still be read, but because the computer must access several locations on the drive to piece together the file, the retrieval speed is affected.

Contiguous Files on a Hard Drive

A contiguous file is a file in which all the parts are sequentially stored on the hard drive. Unlike fragmented files, a contiguous file requires less time to retrieve from the storage media. Storing the files in a contiguous manner results in optimized read and write speeds. "Defragmenting" your hard drive restores fragmented files to a contiguous file state by moving data to allow space for each file to be stored contiguously.

Contiguous File Selection

Files stored in a single logical location, such as in a folder, are also considered to be contiguous even if they are fragmented on the hard drive. Selecting a set of files in a single location may be referred to as "selecting contiguous files."

Deleting Contiguous Files

Delete contiguous files, regardless of whether they are contiguous on a hard drive or in a folder, from your computer drive by selecting the file or files in the explorer window and pressing the delete key. Select multiple files at once to delete a contiguous grouping of files, such as the contents of a folder. Contiguous files that are in use by the operating system or are protected -- locked from being deleted -- may not be deleted until the file is no longer in use or unprotected.