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Fragmentation refers to the spreading of parts of files over the data area of the hard disk. Over time as many files are created and deleted, files will tend to become more and more fragmented. I'm cheating a bit by putting defragmentation in this section, because fragmentation is not really something that will cause data loss. However, it does cause a degradation of performance, and therefore correcting it is a part of any good preventive maintenance program.
I recommend that most users defragment their hard disk drives on a weekly basis, depending on how much activity they have on the disk. This will allow you to keep your PC running at peak performance. Tools such as Microsoft's Defrag or the Norton Utilities SpeeDisk program will work for most people. See here for more information on system optimization.