Windows File Structures and Paths – CompTIA A+ 220-902 – 1.1

The Windows operating system uses a specific set of standards to reference files and folders. In this video, you’ll learn about storage device naming, how to reference files and folders, the Windows File Manager structure, and some Windows system folders.

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When you’re using the Windows operating system, you may see that drives and files are accessed with different letters and backslashes and colons. You may be trying to figure out what all of this means. So in this video, we’ll look at the different Windows file structures and paths and how you would reference those in the Windows operating system.

In the Windows operating system, we reference drives by a letter between A and Z, and we always follow those with the colon sign. So you’ll usually see a physical or logical drive reference with this drive letter followed by the colon.

For example, you may have a floppy drive inside of your system. It may be called A colon. The main storage device on your computer is usually given the C drive, so it’s C colon. And anything that might be an optical drive in your system like a DVD-ROM or CD-ROM drive is usually called D colon.

These drives don’t have to have these particular letters assigned to them. You could have any particular letter assigned to these. And, of course, if you have more than these drives inside of your computer, you might have an E drive, an F drive, an M drive, a T drive, or any other letter inside of your computer.

Inside of each one of these drives is a separate set of files that follows a hierarchy from the root of the drive all the way through, with separate files and separate folders. For example, in your C drive, you will have many different folders inside of that C drive, and in each folder you might have a number of files. This is just like you had a physical file folder, and you wanted to put different files or different papers inside of that physical folder.

In the real world, we don’t usually put folders within folders within folders, but in our operating system that is a completely normal way to operate. So you can not only have files within your folders, you can create trees of folders.

For instance, the Users folder here has an IE User inside of that. And this IE User folder has a number of folders inside of that. It’s a simple hierarchical way that we can keep track of exactly what’s on our system and allows us to organize things in ways that make sense for us.

When you’re looking at these nested folders inside something like Windows Explorer, you’ll see the C colon drive, and then it simply references user IE User and, in this case, Favorites. But if you see this spelled out at the command line, you might see these separated by backslashes. So you would see this written as C colon backslash Users backslash Professor backslash Documents. And inside of documents is a file called budget.xls.

Inside of the Windows user interface, we’re almost always using our File Manager to be able to organize and keep track of where files might be. This really organizes things in a very specific way, and it’s the same regardless of what system you go to.

Here at the desktop, at the very top, you can see that you have many different items to choose from. Very common items might be things like the Homegroup, which you’ll see in Windows 8. But underneath this individual computer, you have User Folders, there’s a Computer folder. You have Documents, Downloads, and everything that you might need to access at a glance from inside of your File Manager.

Underneath this main drive of your computer, for instance C colon, there are three very important files that are specific to the Windows operating system. The first one we’ll look at is backslash Users. This is where all of your User documents will be. If you needed to back up all of the documents that you’ve ever created, you can simply go to the User’s folder and backup everything that’s in that folder.

Another important operating system folder is one called Program Files. You’ll see this written as backslash Program Files. And whenever you install an application onto your computer, it’s going to be installed underneath a directory inside of that Program Files.

And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is the operating system itself. All of your OS files are stored in a folder called Windows. Some of these are located right off the root as individual files. And generally those are hidden from you, but almost everything related to the operating system you’re going to find inside of your Windows folder.