What is a File?
A file is nothing more than a piece of information which is stored on a computer. A file can be something as basic as a Microsoft Word Document to something as intricate as a Video. Files are often accessed from within another program and are defined by a specific file extension. Sometimes, a file is independent from other files. But in other cases, files are dependent on other files and will not work properly without their presence. This situation can be seen when one deletes a section of their Operating System and restarts their computer to realize that those files were of high importance and their computer will not function without them.
What is a Folder?
A folder is basically a box or container in which files are held. Folders are used to group together related files and separate them from other unrelated files. Folders are somewhat like drawers in a kitchen. One drawer may be dedicated to holding plates and another to holding silverware. This way, the plates and the silverware and both organized logically, but at the same time they are in different locations to make it simpler to locate a fork or a dish. On a computer, one may use a folder to contain all of their music files together and all of their video files together in another folder. Like this, the user can quickly open up their music folder and not have to sift through a plethora of video files.
What is a Subfolder?
Subfolders are simply folders which are placed within another folder. From observation it is noticeable that the majority of files on a computer are located within some sort of subfolder; whether they are files for a game or family photos. In theory, subfolders are similar to shelves of a closet. The closet is the main folder which holds all the clothes, or files, but each shelve is a subfolder and is responsible for storing specific types of clothes, such as pants.
What is File Management?
File management is the process of placing, naming, and organizing files and folders in a seemingly logical manner. In other words, file management on the computer is similar to how someone would arrange documents and important papers in a filing cabinet. Related papers and documents are placed into an appropriately named folder and that folder is then placed into the appropriate level or section of the file cabinet. Similarly, on the computer, file management would consist of sorting and arranging a group of files into specific folders so that similar or related files are located together.
What is File Hierarchy?
When organizing the contents of ones computer, it is essential to understand how files and folders are connected. A well organized computer will consist of many folders and subfolder which are located in a logical sequence. The order, or rank, in which folders and file are linked is often referred to as file hierarchy and the route to a file is known as its path.
File hierarchy is similar to branches and leaves of a tree. The main system drive is the trunk of the tree, and each folder represents a branch which extends from the trunk. Files within this first folder are represented by leaves on the branch and subfolders are represented by more branches. This carries on until all the subfolders on the computer continue creating more branches and all the files on the computer are leaves growing off of their appropriate branch.
In the following image, the D: drive would be the trunk of the tree, and the Documents and Settings folder would be a branch extending from the truck. Six more branches would continue to extend until the last branch (Styles) is found. On this branch there is only one leaf, which is called ‘workingset’ and is shown within the right panel of Windows Explorer. Also, it is important to keep in mind that there are many other branches and leaves on the entire tree and this example is only demonstrating one of the many possible paths which exist between the drives and files on the computer.
In conclusion, Windows hierarchy is organized like this: Drive > Folder(s) > File.
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