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External fragmentation

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Definition Edit

External fragmentation is the phenomenon in which free storage becomes divided into many small pieces over time.

Overview Edit

It is a weakness of certain storage allocation algorithms, occurring when an application allocates and deallocates ("frees") regions of storage of varying sizes, and the allocation algorithm responds by leaving the allocated and deallocated regions interspersed. The result is that although free storage is available, it is effectively unusable because it is divided into pieces that are too small to satisfy the demands of the application. The term "external" refers to the fact that the unusable storage is outside the allocated regions.

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