System Administration Guide, Volume 1

Fragment Size

As files are created or expanded, they are allocated disk space in either full logical blocks or portions of logical blocks called fragments. When disk space is needed to hold a data for a file, full blocks are allocated first, and then one or more fragments of a block are allocated for the remainder. For small files, allocation begins with fragments.

The ability to allocate fragments of blocks to files, rather than just whole blocks, saves space by reducing fragmentation of disk space resulting from unused holes in blocks.

You define the fragment size when you create a UFS file system. The default fragment size is 1 Kbyte. Each block can be divided into 1, 2, 4, or 8 fragments, which results in fragment sizes from 8192 bytes to 512 bytes (for 4-Kbyte file systems only). The lower bound is actually tied to the disk sector size, typically 512 bytes.

Note -

The upper bound might equal the full block size, in which case the fragment is not a fragment at all. This configuration might be optimal for file systems with very large files when you are more concerned with speed than with space.

When choosing a fragment size, look at the trade-off between time and space: a small fragment size saves space, but requires more time to allocate. As a general rule, to increase storage efficiency, use a larger fragment size for file systems where most of the files are large. Use a smaller fragment size for file systems where most of the files are small.