See also: File sharing | Data | Information

An abstract way to store data in a digital medium. The word is derived from paper files, in an attempt to draw a connection between the real-life object and the digital abstraction. Within a GUI, files are often represented by icons of folders, documents and so on.

All files are named something unique and some include “metadata,” which describes their content but is not essential to the file itself. Files can be index and catalogued. Groups of files may be batch processed.

Many computer file formats, as well as analog forms, such as official records, are used to organize information for historical, financial, programming, storage, backup and intelligence purposes.

In the UNIX operating system, there is a paradigm about treating everything as a file. For example, on some UNIX systems, one can access network settings, CPU data, raw disks sans filesystem, random streams, ordered/null streams and many other operating system functions as simple files.

Related Topics


  • Duplicate File Finder – (Windows) – a powerful freeware file comparing program better than many commercial versions. Also similar tool by the same name but much simpler (also freeware).

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