Difference Between File and Folder

The terms Folder and File are computer terms, which are quite commonly used. 


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In simple terms, a file is similar to a document available on one’s desk and a folder is similar to a container that is used to store files.

It cannot be denied that it is impossible to keep thousands of paper files on a single desk, as it will be impossible to find a particular file from the lot when you need it.

So, it is necessary to store these files in a folder. The files must be organized and placed into particular folders. This will make it easy to search for a particular file.

Key Takeaways

  1. A file is a unit of information that stores data, whereas a folder is a container that holds files or other folders.
  2. A file is identified by its name and extension, whereas a folder is identified by its name and the files and folders it contains.
  3. A file can be edited, deleted, or moved individually, whereas a folder can only be moved or deleted.

File vs Folder

The difference between a file and a folder is that a file is a collection or group of interlinked data and information, whereas a folder is a container used to store files and subfolders.

Files have extensions to identify their type but folders do not have extensions. 

File vs Folder

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonFileFolder
DefinitionIt is a collection of linked information and data which is stored in a secondary storage device.It is basically a container that carries and organizes files and adds them under a common heading.
ExtensionsIt can have extensions.It cannot have extensions.
ContainerA file is not a container. It cannot hold or contain any other files or folders.A folder is a container that can contain any number of folders or files.
Supported operationsThe operations that a file supports are open, modify, save, print, rename and email the file content.The operations that a folder supports are share, rename, move and delete.
SharingFiles are restricted from being shared on the network by itself.Folders are allowed to be shared on the network.
SpaceFiles occupy space on the memory of a computer.Folders do not occupy any space on the memory of a computer.
Memory sizeA file has a particular memory size.A folder has no specific size.

What is a File?

Whenever we store any data in our computer system, the operating system supplies an entity called a file. A file is a collection of associated information or data.

There are many different types of files as per the data stored in them and these are identified by the extensions they have. Some files can have data and information in numeric form, some can have it in binary or alphanumeric form.

A few types of files include a workbook, word document, scanned photograph, application, or any audio or video stored in a hard drive.

Properties of a File

  1. Name–  The name of the file helps to differentiate it from one another. Files are accessed using their names and there are certain rules for naming files.
  2. Extension– It is the extension that specifies the type of the file, whether it is a document, text, image, video audio, or any other type.
  3. Date and time– These are stored by a file at the time of its alteration or creation in addition to the data in the files.
  4. Length– The total byte content expresses the length of the file.
  5. Protection attributes– The file protection attributes are used to determine the type of file access that is given to the user, such as archive, read-only, or hidden. 

What is Folder?

A folder is used to accommodate a group of files and folders and place them under the same heading. Any number of folders can be created and each such folder can have numerous files and subfolders.

The folders can have many entries as per the number of files created. If a file is deleted from the folder, the entry automatically gets deleted from the folder also. 

Folders are important to keep. They help organize numerous files into groups and make searching for a particular file easy.

If we did not have any folders on our computer system, all the programs, documents, and different files would be found in the same place. A Folder allows us to have multiple files in it.

We can have more than one file with the same file name in different folders. For example, a file called assignment.doc can be saved in my documents folder, and another file called assignment.doc in another folder called assignments. 

A folder does not have extensions like a file.


Main Differences Between File and Folder

  1. A file is a collection of related information and data, whereas a folder is a place to store such files.
  2. A file can have extensions, but a folder does not have extensions.
  3. A file cannot contain other same entities, while a folder can contain other same entities.
  4. When talking about space consumption, a file has a specific size. On the other hand, a folder does not have any particular size.
  5. Once the file is created, it can be opened, saved, printed, renamed, emailed, and modified. Once a folder is created, it can be moved, renamed, or deleted.
  6. Serial, indexed sequential, sequential and direct file organizations are the different organizations of a file. The different directory organizations of folders include a single directory per user, one directory per user, and multiple directories per user.
  7. A file has a name, time, date, length, protection, and extension attributes. A folder has a name, time, date, and protection attributes.
  8. A file can store information or data in a single unit, while a folder can store different types of files.
Difference Between File and Folder
  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/asi.21415
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/6970237/
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