Clusters consists of one or more sectors and are exponents of 2. That is clusters are either 2, 4, 8, 16, etc. However, a cluster can consist of 1 sector. The space in clusters are reserved for data contents. Whenever data is appended to the file and the file grows, additional clusters are allocated accordingly
Using an example, if we have a file of 600 bytes and a drive with 1024 bytes cluster, this would require 1 cluster (or 1024) bytes to be reserved since the 600 bytes is more than the size of 1 sector (512 bytes). If this file grows to 1200 bytes then 4 clusters (2048 bytes) will be allocated. To view the disk cluster information on a computer running Microsoft Windows, one can use either fsutil
On a computer running Linux, the term is not cluster but instead blocks. In the image below our “test.txt” file which is 8 bytes actually takes up 8 blocks. From the image above in the “sectors” section we know that each sector is 512 bytes. As a result, the IO Block size for this drive/partition is 512*8 which equals 4096 bytes. Therefore for the purpose of this discussion, this drive/partition uses 4096 bytes block size similar to how Microsoft Windows uses 4096 bytes cluster.
Hope you find this information helpful and please see the other posts in this series for additional information on working with media.
In this series
Working with media - Unallocated Space
Working with media - Allocated Space
Working with media - Partitioning
Working with media - Sectors
Working with media - Clusters
Working with media - Slack Space
Forensic Imaging and their Formats - The Advanced Forensic Format (AFF)
Forensic Imaging and their Formats - Encase Image (E01)
Forensic Imaging and their Formats - DD (raw)