File System


Before going to file systems, first let us know “what is a file?” A file is a piece of information or data stored by the user which is identified by a unique name. Each and every data stored on your hard drive or any device will be stored in the form of a file. In order to manage and facilitate easy retrieval of these files, operating systems use these file systems.

File System is a way of storing and organizing your files logically to facilitate easy retrieval. Every device including memory cards, SD cards, pen drives etc. will have a file system. On your computer or laptops these files systems will be installed during the OS installation itself. It makes use of the underlying device that offers access to an array of fixed-size blocks called Sectors. There are many types of file systems, based on the operating systems and the device used the File system type changes.

What does file system do?

Some of the functions of these file systems are:

  • It is used create, modify,  delete and access the files stored on the device
  • Organizes the files logically
  • Permits sharing of data between processes, people, and even machines, also it may even provide synchronization options via locking
  • Provides data protection, by file access privileges  (Read, Write and execute)

Types of File System:


Disk File Systems: It is a file system which is designed for the storage of files on a data storage device, mostly for the disk drives like hard drives or external hard drives, which depends on the operating systems installed on the computer.
Examples for these types are:
On Windows: FAT (File Allocation Table), FAT32, NTFS (New Technology File system)
On Mac OS X: HFS (Hierarchical File system), HFS + / HFS X (Extended Hierarchical file system)

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Flash File Systems: It is a file system designed for storing files on flash memory devices such as memory cards, SD cards etc.
Example: JFFS2, YAFFS, and ExFAT (Supports Windows and Mac OS X)

Database File Systems: It is a new concept of file management in which Instead of hierarchical structured management, files are identified by their characteristics, like type of file, topic, author or similar metadata.

Transactional File Systems: It is a special kind of file system, which logs the events or transactions to these files. Whenever you do an operation, the changes will be updated to a number of different files and even disk structures. It is important that they all be executed at the same time.
For example, file system used in banks that sends money to other bank electronically. This type of file system is synchronized and is fault tolerant and having a high degree of overhead.

Network File System: This type of file system acts as a client for a remote file access protocol, providing access to files on a server.
Example: NFS (Network File System), FTP (File Transfer Protocol) etc.

Special Purpose File System: This type of file system includes systems where the files are arranged dynamically by software. These are most commonly used by file-centric OS’s such as UNIX.