The allocation size refers to the size of the data clusters you’re instructing your operating system to use. Think of data clusters like a baskets on a shelf. When you need to put data away, you pull off a basket and put it in. The smaller the baskets the smaller the little bundles of data you can store in each one. The larger the basket the larger the bundles of data. The size of the shelf itself is what determines how much total data you store, but the size of the baskets on it (the cluster size) determines how efficiently that data is stored. If, for example, you have one tiny little left over piece of something you need to store, that item is going to get a whole big basket all by itself. Having smaller baskets decreases that wasted space and packs in the data chunks (big and small) into the space you have more effectively.

Now how does this apply to your flash drive? The benefit of having larger clusters is reduced seek time. This really only helps with traditional hard drives as you want to minimize the times the head needs to move across the drive. Flash drives (and Solid State Drives) have nearly instant seek time. Increasing the cluster size to decrease the seek time doesn’t benefit you, it just makes your storage more inefficient. Because the flash drive affords you nearly instant seeking, you want to select the smallest allocation size possible in order to maximize your storage efficiency.

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