What Is A File?


A File is an object which contains data for different purposes and types like information, image, video, configuration, database, etc. The file is the one of the most important components of the operating systems.

File Contents

All data in a system is store inside the files. So files can store different types of data in different formats. A file may contain simple text to binary image data to database server data. Below are some of the most used and stored file contents.

  • Text
  • Document
  • Presentation
  • Database
  • Video
  • Image
  • Configuration
  • Temporary Data
  • Executable
  • Library
  • Device Driver

File Naming

Files are named in different named related to their data and purpose. The file named is important because their names make them unique and easy to access. File names can use alphanumeric characters but there are some restrictions set by operating and file systems. These restrictions are set for preventing crashes.

  • Windows XP FAT32 file system file named can not use "/\*?<>|: and the maximum file can be 255 characters.
  • Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 NTFS file system file named can not use "/\*?<>|: and the maximum file can be 256 characters.
  • MacOS X HFS+/UFS file system file named can not use : and the maximum file can be 255 characters.
  • Linux ext4 file system file named can not use NUL byte and the maximum file does not have character length restriction.

File Types and Extensions

Files are stored with some extensions too with their names in order to specify the type of the data and format they contain. Below you can find some popular file types with their extensions and usage types.

  • .txt is Text File Format which stores simple unformatted text.
  • .exe is Executable File Format which instructions to execute and run the application.
  • .dll is Dynamic Library which data and libraries to provide executable.
  • .doc and .docx are Word File Formats which store the formatted and styled document and text content with images.
  • .pdf is a Portable Document File Format which documents in a portable format.
  • .png is an image format mainly used in Linux systems and the web.
  • .jpeg or .jpg are file formats to store an image in Windows and the web
  • .ppt is a PowerPoint Presentation File Format which stores presentations.
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File Management

Files can be managed by different tools and applications according to their formats and usage. For example, a pdf file can be viewer by different applications like Google Chrome, Adobe PDF Reader, Foxit PDF Reader, etc. but in order to edit some special applications like Adobe DC Premium can be required. If we just want to copy a pdf file the OS file browser or explorer can be used without any extra tool.

Windows File Explorer

Windows File Explorer is a very popular tool that is provided by Windows operating systems. It has file-related features like Copy,Paste ,Delete ,Rename ,Create ShortCut , Show Properties etc.

Windows File Explorer Menu

File Tools and Applications

Even operating systems provide built-in tools and applications to manage files there are some useful 3rd party tools for file management. These 3rd party file management tools provide extra and interesting and easy features to manage files.

  • XYplorer
  • Directory Opus
  • fman
  • Free Commander
  • Explorer++
  • Altap Salamander
  • Tag Spaces

File Properties and Attributes

Files have some properties which provide information about them. Here are some properties which are useful to get more detailed information about a file.

Name is the most generic property which shows the complete name of the file without hiding extension etc.

Location is the path where the file is stored and found.

Type of file is the file type which is also related to the File Extension .

Size is the storage area the file takes. According to the size files can be categorized as a little or big files.

Created is the time when the file is first created.

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Modified is the time when the file last time modified or changed.

Accessed is the time when the file is accessed.

Read-only attribute set the file as read-only and can be changed or edited or updated but can be viewed or accessed.

Hidden attribute will hide the file from the user but can be used by specifying the complete path.

File Properties and Attributes

File Storage Mediums

Files can be stored in different platforms on different storage mediums with different formats. Let’s list some of the popular file storage mediums.

System HDD is the most popular way to store a file where stored inside the user’s home directory.

Flash USB Drive is another popular file storage medium were used to move or transfer files to another system physically. Flash USB Drives are plug and plug which makes them practical and fast.

Cloud Systems are recent popular storage medium for our files. Cloud systems run on data centers on remote locations where files are copied or sync via the internet.

CD-ROM is an old and slow way to store files with a limited storage area. Currently, they are replaced with Flash USB Drives.

Floppy Disk is older than CD-ROM and usage is very very low in modern-day.

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