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A computer file is a computer resource for recording data discretely in a computer storage device. Just as words can be written to paper, so can information be written to a computer file. Files can be edited and transferred through the internet on that particular computer system.
In computing, a system resource, or simply resource, is any physical or virtual component of limited availability within a computer system. Every device connected to a computer system is a resource. Every internal system component is a resource. Virtual system resources include files, network connections, and memory areas. Managing resources is referred to as resource management, and includes both preventing resource leaks and dealing with resource contention .Computing Resources are used in cloud computing to provide services through Networks.
Data is any sequence of one or more symbols given meaning by specific act(s) of interpretation.
Computer data storage, often called storage, is a technology consisting of computer components and recording media that are used to retain digital data. It is a core function and fundamental component of computers.
There are different types of computer files, designed for different purposes. A file may be designed to store a picture, a written message, a video, a computer program, or a wide variety of other kinds of data. Some types of files can store several types of information at once.
A file format is a standard way that information is encoded for storage in a computer file. It specifies how bits are used to encode information in a digital storage medium. File formats may be either proprietary or free and may be either unpublished or open.
Digital video is an electronic representation of moving visual images (video) in the form of encoded digital data. This is in contrast to analog video, which represents moving visual images with analog signals. Digital video comprises a series of digital images displayed in rapid succession.
A computer program is a collection of instructions that performs a specific task when executed by a computer. Most computer devices require programs to function properly.
By using computer programs, a person can open, read, change, save, and close a computer file. Computer files may be reopened, modified, and copied an arbitrary number of times.
Typically, files are organised in a file system, which keeps track of where the files are located on disk and enables user access.
In computing, a file system or filesystem, controls how data is stored and retrieved. Without a file system, information placed in a storage medium would be one large body of data with no way to tell where one piece of information stops and the next begins. By separating the data into pieces and giving each piece a name, the information is easily isolated and identified. Taking its name from the way paper-based information systems are named, each group of data is called a "file". The structure and logic rules used to manage the groups of information and their names is called a "file system".
The word "file" derives from the Latin filum ("a thread").
"File" was used in the context of computer storage as early as January 1940. In Punched Card Methods in Scientific Computation,W. J. Eckert stated, "The first extensive use of the early Hollerith Tabulator in astronomy was made by Comrie. He used it for building a table from successive differences, and for adding large numbers of harmonic terms". "Tables of functions are constructed from their differences with great efficiency, either as printed tables or as a file of punched cards ."
Leslie John Comrie FRS was an astronomer and a pioneer in mechanical computation.
In February 1950, in a Radio Corporation of America (RCA) advertisement in Popular Science magazinedescribing a new "memory" vacuum tube it had developed, RCA stated: "the results of countless computations can be kept 'on file' and taken out again. Such a 'file' now exists in a 'memory' tube developed at RCA Laboratories. Electronically it retains figures fed into calculating machines, holds them in storage while it memorizes new ones – speeds intelligent solutions through mazes of mathematics."
Popular Science is an American quarterly magazine carrying popular science content, which refers to articles for the general reader on science and technology subjects. Popular Science has won over 58 awards, including the American Society of Magazine Editors awards for its journalistic excellence in both 2003 and 2004. With roots beginning in 1872, Popular Science has been translated into over 30 languages and is distributed to at least 45 countries.
In 1952, "file" denoted, among other things, information stored on punched cards.
In early use, the underlying hardware, rather than the contents stored on it, was denominated a "file". For example, the IBM 350 disk drives were denominated "disk files".The introduction, circa 1961, by the Burroughs MCP and the MIT Compatible Time-Sharing System of the concept of a "file system" that managed several virtual "files" on one storage device is the origin of the contemporary denotation of the word. Although the contemporary "register file" demonstrates the early concept of files, its use has greatly decreased.
On most modern operating systems, files are organized into one-dimensional arrays of bytes. The format of a file is defined by its content since a file is solely a container for data, although on some platforms the format is usually indicated by its filename extension, specifying the rules for how the bytes must be organized and interpreted meaningfully. For example, the bytes of a plain text file (.txt in Windows) are associated with either ASCII or UTF-8 characters, while the bytes of image, video, and audio files are interpreted otherwise. Most file types also allocate a few bytes for metadata, which allows a file to carry some basic information about itself.
Some file systems can store arbitrary (not interpreted by the file system) file-specific data outside of the file format, but linked to the file, for example extended attributes or forks. On other file systems this can be done via sidecar files or software-specific databases. All those methods, however, are more susceptible to loss of metadata than are container and archive file formats.
This section may contain misleading parts.March 2019)(
At any instant in time, a file might have a size, normally expressed as number of bytes, that indicates how much storage is associated with the file. In most modern operating systems the size can be any non-negative whole number of bytes up to a system limit. Many older operating systems kept track only of the number of blocks or tracks occupied by a file on a physical storage device. In such systems, software employed other methods to track the exact byte count (e.g., CP/M used a special control character, Ctrl-Z, to signal the end of text files).
The general definition of a file does not require that its size have any real meaning, however, unless the data within the file happens to correspond to data within a pool of persistent storage. A special case is a zero byte file; these files can be newly created files that have not yet had any data written to them, or may serve as some kind of flag in the file system, or are accidents (the results of aborted disk operations). For example, the file to which the link /bin/ls points in a typical Unix-like system probably has a defined size that seldom changes. Compare this with /dev/null which is also a file, but as a character special file, its size is not meaningful.
Information in a computer file can consist of smaller packets of information (often called "records" or "lines") that are individually different but share some common traits. For example, a payroll file might contain information concerning all the employees in a company and their payroll details; each record in the payroll file concerns just one employee, and all the records have the common trait of being related to payroll—this is very similar to placing all payroll information into a specific filing cabinet in an office that does not have a computer. A text file may contain lines of text, corresponding to printed lines on a piece of paper. Alternatively, a file may contain an arbitrary binary image (a blob) or it may contain an executable.
The way information is grouped into a file is entirely up to how it is designed. This has led to a plethora of more or less standardized file structures for all imaginable purposes, from the simplest to the most complex. Most computer files are used by computer programs which create, modify or delete the files for their own use on an as-needed basis. The programmers who create the programs decide what files are needed, how they are to be used and (often) their names.
In some cases, computer programs manipulate files that are made visible to the computer user. For example, in a word-processing program, the user manipulates document files that the user personally names. Although the content of the document file is arranged in a format that the word-processing program understands, the user is able to choose the name and location of the file and provide the bulk of the information (such as words and text) that will be stored in the file.
Many applications pack all their data files into a single file called an archive file, using internal markers to discern the different types of information contained within. The benefits of the archive file are to lower the number of files for easier transfer, to reduce storage usage, or just to organize outdated files. The archive file must often be unpacked before next using.
The most basic operations that programs can perform on a file are:
Files on a computer can be created, moved, modified, grown, shrunk, and deleted. In most cases, computer programs that are executed on the computer handle these operations, but the user of a computer can also manipulate files if necessary. For instance, Microsoft Word files are normally created and modified by the Microsoft Word program in response to user commands, but the user can also move, rename, or delete these files directly by using a file manager program such as Windows Explorer (on Windows computers) or by command lines (CLI).
In Unix-like systems, user space programs do not operate directly, at a low level, on a file. Only the kernel deals with files, and it handles all user-space interaction with files in a manner that is transparent to the user-space programs. The operating system provides a level of abstraction, which means that interaction with a file from user-space is simply through its filename (instead of its inode). For example, rm filename will not delete the file itself, but only a link to the file. There can be many links to a file, but when they are all removed, the kernel considers that file's memory space free to be reallocated. This free space is commonly considered a security risk (due to the existence of file recovery software). Any secure-deletion program uses kernel-space (system) functions to wipe the file's data.
In modern computer systems, files are typically accessed using names (filenames). In some operating systems, the name is associated with the file itself. In others, the file is anonymous, and is pointed to by links that have names. In the latter case, a user can identify the name of the link with the file itself, but this is a false analogue, especially where there exists more than one link to the same file.
Files (or links to files) can be located in directories. However, more generally, a directory can contain either a list of files or a list of links to files. Within this definition, it is of paramount importance that the term "file" includes directories. This permits the existence of directory hierarchies, i.e., directories containing sub-directories. A name that refers to a file within a directory must be typically unique. In other words, there must be no identical names within a directory. However, in some operating systems, a name may include a specification of type that means a directory can contain an identical name for more than one type of object such as a directory and a file.
In environments in which a file is named, a file's name and the path to the file's directory must uniquely identify it among all other files in the computer system—no two files can have the same name and path. Where a file is anonymous, named references to it will exist within a namespace. In most cases, any name within the namespace will refer to exactly zero or one file. However, any file may be represented within any namespace by zero, one or more names.
Any string of characters may be a well-formed name for a file or a link depending upon the context of application. Whether or not a name is well-formed depends on the type of computer system being used. Early computers permitted only a few letters or digits in the name of a file, but modern computers allow long names (some up to 255 characters) containing almost any combination of unicode letters or unicode digits, making it easier to understand the purpose of a file at a glance. Some computer systems allow file names to contain spaces; others do not. Case-sensitivity of file names is determined by the file system. Unix file systems are usually case sensitive and allow user-level applications to create files whose names differ only in the case of characters. Microsoft Windows supports multiple file systems, each with different policies[ which? ] regarding case-sensitivity. The common FAT file system can have multiple files whose names differ only in case if the user uses a disk editor to edit the file names in the directory entries. User applications, however, will usually not allow the user to create multiple files with the same name but differing in case.
Most computers organize files into hierarchies using folders, directories, or catalogs. The concept is the same irrespective of the terminology used. Each folder can contain an arbitrary number of files, and it can also contain other folders. These other folders are referred to as subfolders. Subfolders can contain still more files and folders and so on, thus building a tree-like structure in which one "master folder" (or "root folder" — the name varies from one operating system to another) can contain any number of levels of other folders and files. Folders can be named just as files can (except for the root folder, which often does not have a name). The use of folders makes it easier to organize files in a logical way.
When a computer allows the use of folders, each file and folder has not only a name of its own, but also a path, which identifies the folder or folders in which a file or folder resides. In the path, some sort of special character—such as a slash—is used to separate the file and folder names. For example, in the illustration shown in this article, the path /Payroll/Salaries/Managers uniquely identifies a file called Managers in a folder called Salaries, which in turn is contained in a folder called Payroll. The folder and file names are separated by slashes in this example; the topmost or root folder has no name, and so the path begins with a slash (if the root folder had a name, it would precede this first slash).
Many computer systems use extensions in file names to help identify what they contain, also known as the file type. On Windows computers, extensions consist of a dot (period) at the end of a file name, followed by a few letters to identify the type of file. An extension of .txt identifies a text file; a .doc extension identifies any type of document or documentation, commonly in the Microsoft Word file format; and so on. Even when extensions are used in a computer system, the degree to which the computer system recognizes and heeds them can vary; in some systems, they are required, while in other systems, they are completely ignored if they are presented.
Many modern computer systems provide methods for protecting files against accidental and deliberate damage. Computers that allow for multiple users implement file permissions to control who may or may not modify, delete, or create files and folders. For example, a given user may be granted only permission to read a file or folder, but not to modify or delete it; or a user may be given permission to read and modify files or folders, but not to execute them. Permissions may also be used to allow only certain users to see the contents of a file or folder. Permissions protect against unauthorized tampering or destruction of information in files, and keep private information confidential from unauthorized users.
Another protection mechanism implemented in many computers is a read-only flag. When this flag is turned on for a file (which can be accomplished by a computer program or by a human user), the file can be examined, but it cannot be modified. This flag is useful for critical information that must not be modified or erased, such as special files that are used only by internal parts of the computer system. Some systems also include a hidden flag to make certain files invisible; this flag is used by the computer system to hide essential system files that users should not alter.
Any file that has any useful purpose, must have some physical manifestation. That is, a file (an abstract concept) in a real computer system must have a real physical analogue if it is to exist at all.
In physical terms, most computer files are stored on some type of data storage device. For example, most operating systems store files on a hard disk. Hard disks have been the ubiquitous form of non-volatile storage since the early 1960s.Where files contain only temporary information, they may be stored in RAM. Computer files can be also stored on other media in some cases, such as magnetic tapes, compact discs, Digital Versatile Discs, Zip drives, USB flash drives, etc. The use of solid state drives is also beginning to rival the hard disk drive.
In Unix-like operating systems, many files have no associated physical storage device. Examples are /dev/null and most files under directories /dev, /proc and /sys. These are virtual files: they exist as objects within the operating system kernel.
As seen by a running user program, files are usually represented either by a file control block or by a file handle. A file control block (FCB) is an area of memory which is manipulated to establish a filename etc. and then passed to the operating system as a parameter; it was used by older IBM operating systems and early PC operating systems including CP/M and early versions of MS-DOS. A file handle is generally either an opaque data type or an integer; it was introduced in around 1961 by the ALGOL-based Burroughs MCP running on the Burroughs B5000 but is now ubiquitous.
When a file is said to be corrupted, it is because its contents have been saved to the computer in such a way that they can't be properly read, either by a human or by software. Depending on the extension of the damage, the original file can sometimes be recovered, or at least partially understood.A file may be created corrupt, or it may be corrupted at a later point through overwriting.
There are many ways by which a file can become corrupted. Most commonly, the issue happens in the process of writing the file to a disk.For example, if an image-editing program unexpectedly crashes while saving an image, that file may be corrupted because the program couldn't save its entirety. The program itself might warn the user that there was an error, allowing for another attempt at saving the file. Some other examples of reasons for which files become corrupted include:
Although file corruption usually happens accidentally, it may also be done on purpose, as to fool someone else into thinking an assignment was ready at an earlier date, potentially gaining time to finish said assignment. There are services that provide on demand file corruption, which essentially fill a given file with random data so that it can't be opened or read, yet still seems legitimate.
One of the most effective countermeasures for unintentional file corruption is backing up important files.In the event of an important file becoming corrupted, the user can simply replace it with the backed up version.
When computer files contain information that is extremely important, a back-up process is used to protect against disasters that might destroy the files. Backing up files simply means making copies of the files in a separate location so that they can be restored if something happens to the computer, or if they are deleted accidentally.
There are many ways to back up files. Most computer systems provide utility programs to assist in the back-up process, which can become very time-consuming if there are many files to safeguard. Files are often copied to removable media such as writable CDs or cartridge tapes. Copying files to another hard disk in the same computer protects against failure of one disk, but if it is necessary to protect against failure or destruction of the entire computer, then copies of the files must be made on other media that can be taken away from the computer and stored in a safe, distant location.
The grandfather-father-son backup method automatically makes three back-ups; the grandfather file is the oldest copy of the file and the son is the current copy.
The way a computer organizes, names, stores and manipulates files is globally referred to as its file system. Most computers have at least one file system. Some computers allow the use of several different file systems. For instance, on newer MS Windows computers, the older FAT-type file systems of MS-DOS and old versions of Windows are supported, in addition to the NTFS file system that is the normal file system for recent versions of Windows. Each system has its own advantages and disadvantages. Standard FAT allows only eight-character file names (plus a three-character extension) with no spaces, for example, whereas NTFS allows much longer names that can contain spaces. You can call a file "Payroll records" in NTFS, but in FAT you would be restricted to something like payroll.dat (unless you were using VFAT, a FAT extension allowing long file names).
File manager programs are utility programs that allow users to manipulate files directly. They allow you to move, create, delete and rename files and folders, although they do not actually allow you to read the contents of a file or store information in it. Every computer system provides at least one file-manager program for its native file system. For example, File Explorer (formerly Windows Explorer) is commonly used in Microsoft Windows operating systems, and Nautilus is common under several distributions of Linux.
NTFS is a proprietary journaling file system developed by Microsoft. Starting with Windows NT 3.1, it is the default file system of the Windows NT family.
Hierarchical File System (HFS) is a proprietary file system developed by Apple Inc. for use in computer systems running Mac OS. Originally designed for use on floppy and hard disks, it can also be found on read-only media such as CD-ROMs. HFS is also referred to as Mac OS Standard, while its successor, HFS Plus, is also called Mac OS Extended.
Disk partitioning or disk slicing is the creation of one or more regions on secondary storage, so that each region can be managed separately. These regions are called partitions. It is typically the first step of preparing a newly installed disk, before any file system is created. The disk stores the information about the partitions' locations and sizes in an area known as the partition table that the operating system reads before any other part of the disk. Each partition then appears to the operating system as a distinct "logical" disk that uses part of the actual disk. System administrators use a program called a partition editor to create, resize, delete, and manipulate the partitions.. Partitioning allows the use of different filesystems to be installed for different kinds of files. Separating user data from system data can prevent the system partition from becoming full and rendering the system unusable. Partitioning can also make backing up easier. A disadvantage is that it can be difficult to properly size partitions resulting in having one partition with much free space and another nearly totally allocated.
In computing, tar is a computer software utility for collecting many files into one archive file, often referred to as a tarball, for distribution or backup purposes. The name is derived from (t)ape (ar)chive, as it was originally developed to write data to sequential I/O devices with no file system of their own. The archive data sets created by tar contain various file system parameters, such as name, time stamps, ownership, file access permissions, and directory organization. The command line utility was first introduced in the Version 7 Unix in January 1979, replacing the tp program. The file structure to store this information was standardized in POSIX.1-1988 and later POSIX.1-2001, and became a format supported by most modern file archiving systems.
ProDOS is the name of two similar operating systems for the Apple II series of personal computers. The original ProDOS, renamed ProDOS 8 in version 1.2, is the last official operating system usable by all 8-bit Apple II series computers, and was distributed from 1983 to 1993. The other, ProDOS 16, was a stop-gap solution for the 16-bit Apple IIGS that was replaced by GS/OS within two years.
A path, the general form of the name of a file or directory, specifies a unique location in a file system. A path points to a file system location by following the directory tree hierarchy expressed in a string of characters in which path components, separated by a delimiting character, represent each directory. The delimiting character is most commonly the slash ("/"), the backslash character ("\"), or colon (":"), though some operating systems may use a different delimiter. Paths are used extensively in computer science to represent the directory/file relationships common in modern operating systems, and are essential in the construction of Uniform Resource Locators (URLs). Resources can be represented by either absolute or relative paths.
The inode is a data structure in a Unix-style file system that describes a file-system object such as a file or a directory. Each inode stores the attributes and disk block location(s) of the object's data. File-system object attributes may include metadata, as well as owner and permission data.
Files-11, also known as on-disk structure, is the file system used by Digital Equipment Corporation OpenVMS operating system, and also by the older RSX-11. It is a hierarchical file system, with support for access control lists, record-oriented I/O, remote network access, and file versioning.
A disk editor is a computer program that allows its user to read, edit, and write raw data on disk drives ; as such, they are sometimes called sector editors, since the read/write routines built into the electronics of most disk drives require to read/write data in chunks of sectors. Many disk editors can also be used to edit the contents of a running computer's memory or a disk image.
Utility software is system software designed to help to analyze, configure, optimize or maintain a computer. It is used to support the computer infrastructure - in contrast to application software, which is aimed at directly performing tasks that benefit ordinary users. However, utilities often form part of application systems. For example a batch job may run user-written code to update a database and may then include a step that runs a utility to back up the database, or a job may run a utility to compress a disk before copying files.
The Windows Registry is a hierarchical database that stores low-level settings for the Microsoft Windows operating system and for applications that opt to use the registry. The kernel, device drivers, services, Security Accounts Manager, and user interface can all use the registry. The registry also allows access to counters for profiling system performance.
Long filename (LFN) support is Microsoft's backward compatible extension of the 8.3 filename naming scheme used in DOS. Long filenames can be more descriptive, including longer filename extensions common on other operating systems such as
.xhtml rather than specialized shortened names such as
.xht. The standard has been common with File Allocation Table (FAT) filesystems since its first implementation in Windows NT 3.5 of 1994.
EncFS is a Free (LGPL) FUSE-based cryptographic filesystem. It transparently encrypts files, using an arbitrary directory as storage for the encrypted files.
In computing, the trash is temporary storage for files that have been deleted in a file manager by the user, but not yet permanently erased from the file system. Typically, a recycle bin is presented as a special file directory to the user, allowing the user to browse deleted (removed) files, undelete those that were deleted by mistake, or delete them permanently.
A zero-byte file or zero-length file is a computer file containing no data; that is, it has a length or size of zero bytes.
A disk utility is a utility program that allows a user to perform various functions on a computer disk, such as disk partitioning and logical volume management, as well as multiple smaller tasks such as changing drive letters and other mount points, renaming volumes, disk checking, and disk formatting, which are otherwise handled separately by multiple other built-in commands. Each operating system (OS) has its own basic disk utility, and there are also separate programs which can recognize and adjust the different filesystems of multiple OSes. Types of disk utilities include disk checkers, disk cleaners and disk space analyzers
A FAT file system is a specific type of computer file system architecture and a family of industry-standard file systems utilizing it.