Directory structure

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In computing, a directory structure is the way an operating system's file system and its files are displayed to the user. Files are typically displayed in a hierarchical tree structure.

File names and extensions[edit]

A filename is a string used to uniquely identify a file stored on the file system of a computer. Before the advent of 32-bit operating systems, file names were typically limited to short names (6 to 14 characters in size). Modern operating systems now typically allow much longer filenames (more than 250 characters per pathname element).

Windows, DOS, and OS/2[edit]

In DOS, Windows, and OS/2, the root directory is "drive:\", for example, the root directory is usually "C:\". The directory separator is usually a "\", but the operating system also internally recognizes a "/". Physical and virtual drives are named by a drive letter, as opposed to being combined as one.[1] This means that there is no "formal" root directory, but rather that there are independent root directories on each drive. However, it is possible to combine two drives into one virtual drive letter, by setting a hard drive into a RAID setting of 0.[2]

Common Windows directory structure[edit]

Files in the "Recycle Bin" remain here until it's emptied..
Contains Bootloader files (hidden, since Windows Vista)
Documents and Settings
User folders (up to Windows XP, legacy and hidden since Windows Vista)
Public web server folder (if Internet Information Services is installed)
created by Windows Performance Information and Tools
Global application data, previously the public ("All Users") %APPDATA% folder and is hidden by default.
Program Files
Where applications are installed.
Program Files (x86)
Where applications are installed for x86 (32 bit) programs on a x64 Windows.
System recovery information (hidden)
System Volume Information
Used in system restore (hidden)
User folders (since Windows Vista)
Where Windows and system applications are installed.


Unix and Unix-like operating systems use the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard as the common form for their directory structures. All files and directories appear under the root directory "/", even if they are stored on different physical devices.[3]

See also[edit]