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Definition: file system


(1) The software that people use to copy, move, rename and delete files is a file manager, not a file system.

(2) The software and method for storing and retrieving files on a disk, SSD or USB drive. A major component of the operating system (OS), applications command the OS, and the file system reads and writes the disk clusters (groups of sectors). It manages the folder/directory structure and provides an index to the files. It also defines the syntax used for the "path" to the files. File systems dictate how files are named as well as the maximum size of a file and volume of storage. See path.

There are numerous file systems in use; for example, FAT32 and NTFS are Windows file systems, and APFS is used on Macs. Linux uses ext2, ext3 and FAT32. Unix systems use UFS, ext2, ext3 and ZFS. See block level, cluster, FAT32, NTFS, APFS, NFS, UFS, ext, ZFS and hierarchical file system.