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file

<file system> An element of data storage in a file system.

The history of computing is rich in varied kinds of files and file systems, whether ornate (e.g., Macintosh file system for a well-known case) or deficient (e.g., many simple pre-1980s file systems don't allow directories).

However, the prototypical file has these characteristics:

* It is a single sequence of bytes (but consider Macintosh resource forks).

* It has a finite length, unlike, e.g. a Unix device.

* It is stored in a non-volatile storage medium (but see ramdrive).

* It exists (nominally) in a directory.

* It has a name that it can be referred to by in file operations, possibly in combination with its path.

Additionally, a file system may associate other information with a file, such as permission bits or other file attributes; timestamps for file creation, last revision, and last access; revision numbers (a` la VMS), and other kinds of magic.

(1997-04-08)


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