As you add, delete, and move files on a hard disk, available space is no longer a single, contiguous block. If the system does not have enough contiguous space, then it saves fragments of a file to different locations on the hard disk. An application requires more time to read a fragmented file than one saved to a contiguous location. You can defragment files and optimize available hard disk space by using a third-party disk utility (for example, Norton Utilities).
Illustrator reads and writes information while working on a file. Therefore, the faster the access speed of the disk containing the file or the Illustrator scratch disk, the faster Illustrator can process file information. To improve the performance of Illustrator, work on files saved on drives with fast access speeds, such as an internal hard drive, rather than on drives with slow access speeds, such as a network server (a network drive) or removable media (Zip drive, CD). Removable media often have slower access times and are more easily damaged than internal hard drives.
When you want to save an Illustrator file to a network or removable drive, Adobe recommends that you first save the file to an internal hard disk. Then, close the file, and then use the Finder to copy the closed file to the external drive or network drive. Or, you can save the file to the network using Adobe Version Cue (CS4 only).