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A file is an agglomeration of information - perhaps data (including source code, which is data from the perspective of the computer), sometimes object code - saved on secondary storage, usually in a file system.

Depending on the operating system, a file may be presented to the user as a simple array of bytes or words (as in all Unix systems), or it may have a more structured form, with records.

Although the file system may break up the contents of a file into different physical blocks, scattered across a disk, this is purely internal, to simplify space allocation, and not visible to the user, to whom the file still appears as a unitary object. (In fact, some file systems, such as the BSD Fast File System do make an effort to keep the blocks of a file in close physical proximity, for access speed reasons.)