What is a computer file?

A computer file is a storage unit maintained in a computer’s operating system. This storage unit can be a document, an image, a video or an application. Users can open files, review and change their content, and then save and close them, using the same or different file name.

With the right software, you can create, edit and save files on your computer.

A computer file is made up of a name that creates the file’s identity and an extension that tells the operating system and associated programs what type of file it is. For example, a file named “Budget.xls” tells the user – and the operating system – that the document is an Excel program. “Budget” is the file identity and “xls” is the file extension.

A file folder can contain files, other folders, or nothing.

The most common files consist of a name and an extension. Originally, a filename was limited to eight characters, but modern systems allow for much longer filenames. The name is usually determined by the user or associated program and usually gives an indication of the purpose of the file.

You can transfer files between computers and devices with a dongle.

What are the types of computer files?

Basic file types include database, document, presentation, and spreadsheet. Other file types include program files and system files. Programs are executable files and system files are not opened or modified but help the computer to run the operating system.

The file extension tells the user and the computer what type of file it is. Documents, images and videos are common file types.

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Did you know?

A computer file is a basic unit of storage.

File types include documents, images, videos, and MP3s, but they also include programs and other files that help your computer’s operating system run smoothly.

Files are stored in folders. Folders can contain many different files or they can be empty. Folders can also store other folders (called “subfolders”).

The file extension tells the user and the computer’s operating system what type of file it is.

What does “file extension” mean?

The file extension identifies the file type to the computer’s user and operating system and appears after the file name and a period. Common file extensions include JPG, PNG, XLS, DOC, PDF and PPT, although there are many others such as WMV and EXE.

A file’s extension is typically a period followed by two to four characters. This part of the filename is used by the operating system for internal cataloging. The way an extension is used varies between operating systems; some require the extension and others ignore it altogether. Most systems fall in the middle – the extension helps identify the programs used with the file and acts as a shortcut when read.

The data in a computer file is complete and whole. The information within a file may be opened, read, modified, and saved, given the proper software. The information contained within the file may require other information to operate, such as an executable file needing a database file to properly execute, but the executable and database files are two separate files.

What’s the difference between a file and a file folder?

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A computer folder, which is sometimes called a “directory,” stores computer files. Although a file is always stored in a folder, a folder doesn’t need to contain any files and is sometimes empty.

Interestingly, some modern programs that you may think of as files are actually folders. Microsoft programs later than 2007, including Excel, Powerpoint, and Word (with the XLSX, DOCX, and PPTX file extensions), are actually folders.

How do I set up a file system on a computer?

Some file systems are already installed when you buy your computer, such as program files and system files. But you can arrange your own folder hierarchy for basic file types however you like, typically by dragging and dropping documents and images into folders you create yourself.

The folder hierarchy is a visual representation of how folders and subfolders are organized. You can include multiple file extensions in one folder; for example, you can include XLS, DOC, PPT, WMV, PDF, and JPG in one folder.

Can I transfer a file to another computer?

Yes, but you may not be able to open, read, or modify the file if the new computer doesn’t have the proper hardware installed.

There are multiple ways to transfer files. For example, you can transfer files using an external hard drive or through the web. But you’ll need to have the executable program file installed before you can open, read, and modify (and save) the file.

What else should I know about computer files?

Since each computer file is distinct to itself, there are certain characteristics that are common between any type of file.

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Every file has a size, even if that size is zero. The information stored within the file requires a location on the computer system, so each file is indexed by the system. Lastly, every file contains attributes that determine its use. These attributes, like who may open or alter a file or whether the file may be seen by normal users, are built into the structure of the file, not its internal data.

The last aspect of every computer file is that they exist in some way on the computer system. A computer file may be created or deleted, moved or copied, or altered. A user may do this by using programs associated with those files or through the file management of the operating system itself. These operations may be difficult with some files due to their interaction with the operating system, but it still may be done.

Powerpoint is a common computer file type.

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