Definition

file system

1) In a computer, a file system (sometimes written filesystem) is the way in which files are named and where they are placed logically for storage and retrieval. The DOS, Windows, OS/2, Macintosh, and UNIX-based operating systems all have file systems in which files are placed somewhere in a hierarchical (tree) structure. A file is placed in a directory (folder in Windows) or subdirectory at the desired place in the tree structure.

File systems specify conventions for naming files. These conventions include the maximum number of characters in a name, which characters can be used, and, in some systems, how long the file name suffix can be. A file system also includes a format for specifying the path to a file through the structure of directories.

2) Sometimes the term refers to the part of an operating system or an added-on program that supports a file system as defined in (1). Examples of such add-on file systems include the Network File System (NFS) and the Andrew file system (AFS).

3) In the specialized lingo of storage professionals, a file system is the hardware used for nonvolatile storage , the software application that controls the hardware, and the architecture of both the hardware and software.

This was last updated in April 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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