• Usually, files in a file system are arranged and associated with several file attributes, such as the file name, size, creation/modification timestamps, permissions, and file type. These attributes provide detailed information about the file and determine how it can be accessed and manipulated.
  • In file management, directories (also known as folders) are used to organize/store and group related files. They create a hierarchical structure that helps users and applications navigate and locate files. Directories can contain both files and subdirectories, allowing for a structured organization of data. They allow users to group related files together and create a logical structure. Directories can be nested within other directories, forming a tree-like structure.


  • File management in an operating system (OS) refers to the processes and tools used to organize, store, manipulate, control, and retrieve files and directories on a computer. It involves tasks such as creating, deleting, copying, moving, and searching for files, as well as managing file permissions and access control.

File Operations Activities

  • The OS provides various operations for managing files, such as creating, opening, closing, reading, writing, deleting, copying, moving, renaming files, etc. These operations are typically performed through system calls or higher-level file management APIs.
  • The file system is the underlying structure in an operating system that manages how files are stored, named, and accessed on a storage device (such as a hard drive or SSD). Some common file systems of operating systems are NTFS (Windows), HFS+ (Mac), and ext4 (Linux).
  • There are specific file management features and tools available for operating systems that may vary depending on the operating system we’re using. But some common file operations are usually seen in file management activities by an OS, which is given as follows:- 
    • File Operations:
      • Creating Files: Users can create new files and specify their names, types, and locations. Applications can also create files to store data.
      • Deleting Files: Files can be permanently removed from the file system.
      • Copying Files: Files can be duplicated, creating a new copy in a specified location.
      • Moving Files: Files can be relocated within the file system, including moving them between directories or storage devices.
      • Modifying Files: The content of files can be modified as per need.
      • Renaming Files: File names can be changed without modifying the file’s contents.
    • File Access, Permissions, and Security:
      • The OS enforces access control mechanisms to protect files from unauthorized access. Permissions, such as read, write, and execute, can be assigned to users or groups, specifying who can perform specific operations on a file.
      • File permissions determine who can read, write, and execute files, and they can be set for individual users or groups.
      • File management includes controlling access to files and ensuring data security. 
    • File Metadata:
      • Along with file attributes, file systems can store additional metadata about files, such as file ownership, access control lists (ACLs), extended file attributes (e.g., file tags or comments), and file indexing information (e.g., for fast searching).
    • File Searching & Retrieval:
      • OSes often provide mechanisms to search for files based on various criteria, such as file names, file types, or specific content within files. This allows users to quickly locate files on their systems.
      • Search capabilities may be integrated into the file explorer or provided through dedicated search tools.
    • File Compression and Encryption:
      • OSes may support file compression to reduce storage space and file encryption to protect sensitive data. Compressed files are typically smaller and need to be decompressed before use, while encrypted files require decryption using an appropriate key or password.
      • Common file compression formats include ZIP, RAR, and GZIP.
    • File Backup and Recovery:
      • Backup and recovery mechanisms enable users to create copies of important files or the entire file system to protect against data loss.
      • OSes may provide built-in backup utilities or rely on third-party software for this purpose.
      • Regular backups create copies of files that can be restored in case of accidental deletion, hardware failures, or other issues.
    • File System Maintenance:
      • OSes often include tools to perform routine file system maintenance tasks, such as disk defragmentation (reorganizing fragmented files for improved performance) and disk error checking and repair.
    • File Sharing:
      • Some operating systems support file sharing, allowing users on the same network to access files stored on remote computers. This facilitates collaboration and file exchange between users.



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