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Definition: folder

The logical subdivision of a storage device, which gives the user the illusion of a paper file folder with endless capacity. Folders are created by both software and users, and all of storage is represented as a hierarchy of folders. Each folder contains files (documents, songs, photos, etc.) and other folders (subfolders), all of which expand to accommodate content, limited generally by the capacity of the drive.

Default Folders
The first time an operating system is installed, it creates default folders such as Documents, Music and Photos, and most applications save to these folders automatically. In this case, backing up just the default folders saves all the data people generate. However, company users often create and name their own folders to keep their business functions separated. Knowing how to create, delete, move and copy files and folders is essential to master the computer.

Folder = Directory
Introduced by Xerox in 1981, the folder metaphor was popularized by the Mac in 1984 and Windows in 1990. In the Unix, Linux and DOS environments, a folder is a "directory," and the terms "folder" and "directory" are used synonymously. See files vs. folders, file, directory and Win Folder organization.

Folders on a Mac Desktop
The paper file folder is the analogy. This excerpt from a Mac desktop shows two files (top) and two folders (bottom).

The Manila File Folder
A folder in Windows is graphically represented as a manila-colored paper folder.