File Extension Database

Know More about Computers. What are Files, Folders, and Paths?

Computers are controlled by applications designed to perform specific actions. These actions can be seen through physical output such as the way your printer provides you with a printed copy of your documents. The other actions taken by your computer are those that are not seen physically but are happening. This include how your computer store the files you place on your computer and how operating systems control all the hardware components of your computer system.

Computer data such as your documents, operating system, and other software are composed of individual files. These files persist useful data as computer turned on and off or rebooted. And these individual files are stored in special sections of your hard drive or other forms of storage devices including USB flash drives, removable hard drive, diskettes, CD, and DVD. Let us examine the basics of these:

What are Files

Files are the entries or information stored on your computer. These are represented by binary coding and written on the tracks on a disk. Files are often represented by distinct icons, a normal practice done by Microsoft with their products including system files for their series of operating systems.

Computer applications or programs are usually composed of several files. These files are then accessed by the operating system or application software code that is running in memory (which was loaded there from other files before). There are files designed to be visible for users such as word documents and there are also files hidden from users which are sometimes protected by the operating system. This includes the system files which are very important parts of the operating system.

Some systems arrange files hierarchically and present this to the user through a Graphical Unit Interface (GUI). Files can be moved from one folder to another or from one media to another storage device such as saving files from your computer to a USB flash drive. Filenames are used to directly access these components of the computer system. File name along with file location uniquely identify file within the system.

A file may contain lines of information similar to a written document or an executable program that performs specific task according to how it was coded. Database files contain some entries in a form of a BLOB or Binary Large Object. Blobs are typically images, audio, and some times may contain binary executable code.

The way files are saved is dependent to the file system supported by the computer. File system is a standard of writing files provided by the operating system. Examples of file systems include FAT, FAT32, and NTFS.

What are Folders

For files to be properly organized, a special holder is required. In computing this special holder is defined as folders or sometimes referred as cabinets or directories. Folders can hold several files and lower level folders called sub folders. Similar to files, folders are also represented by icons and are access through their folder names.

Since the primary or top level folder can contain subfolders, the same property is inherited by subfolders. These subfolders can also contain lower level folders and lower level folders may also contain other folders and etc. Other properties of folders include the option of marking it as hidden or visible and network sharing. These properties provide basic security for the folder.

When using the Command Prompt in Windows, folders can be accessed through the command ?cd <folder name>? which means change directory. This tells the Command Prompt to open the folder indicated. The ?dir? command is also used to display a list of the subfolders in a top level folder.

What are Paths

Files and folders are stored in specific locations in a computer. Paths are the direct location of these files and folders in the file system. It is represented by a series of characters including the drive label and the filename or folder name. Folders in a path are separated by delimiters slash, back slash, and colon. Considering the example C:\WINDOWS\system32, this directs a user that folder system32 is under the WINDOWS folder which is the top level folder. Normally drive letters are followed by a colon sign.

Paths are also used to locate resources with in a network. The Universal Naming Convention or Uniform Naming Convention (UNC) is a standard designed to address a common way of finding resources in a network. UNC in Windows can be seen as \\ComputerName\SharedFolder\Resource. Other operating systems such as POSIX have other UNC syntax. Through the standards in a path, finding resources is made easy.