File - File System (filesystem)


A file system (often also written as filesystem) is an application that store and organize files and their data (content).

Essentially, it organizes these files for the storage, organization, manipulation, and retrieval.

The file system can be:

  • local provided by the computer's operating system (or third additional party)
  • or remote.

The way a computer or an application:

  • organizes,
  • names,
  • stores,
  • secures,
  • searches
  • and manipulates files

depends and is implemented through what we refer as a file system.

File systems vary greatly.

  • In some cases the file system is a single hierarchy of files with one top-level root directory (Linux)
  • In other cases it may have several distinct file hierarchies, each with its own top-level root directory. (Windows C: or D:)

A file system is typically composed of one or more underlying file-stores (partition) that provide the storage for the files. (Local, NFS,…) Theses file stores can also vary in the features they support, and the file attributes or meta-data that they associate with files.



A file system is essentially a container with organized, homogenous elements referred to as file system objects.

A file system provides access to file system objects.

A file system manages the following object:

that are stored in:

Physical (Storage device)

See file store,

Most Operating System file systems make use of an underlying data storage device that offers access to an array of fixed-size physical sectors, generally a power of 2 in size (512 bytes or 1, 2, or 4 KiB are most common).

The file system is responsible for organizing these sectors into files and directories, and keeping track of which sectors belong to which file and which are not being used.

Most file systems address data in fixed-sized units called “clusters” or “blocks” which contain a certain number of disk sectors (usually 1-64). This is the smallest amount of disk space that can be allocated to hold a file.



On an OS, the file system is installed on the hard disk or partition.


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 allow 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.


Red Hat Linux includes support for many popular file systems, making it possible to easily access the file systems of other operating systems. This is particularly useful in dual-boot scenarios and when migrating files from one operating system to another.

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