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Working with Files, Folders, and Disks

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This chapter is from the book


  • Understanding Files and Folders
  • Viewing Folders and Files
  • Navigating Folders
  • Searching for Files
  • Creating New Folders
  • Renaming Files and Folders
  • Copying Files
  • Moving Files
  • Deleting Files
  • Working with Compressed Folders
  • Copying Files to Another Computer
  • Backing Up Your Important Files

Managing the data stored on your computer is vitally important. After you've saved a file, you may need to copy it to another computer, move it to a new location on your hard drive, rename it, or even delete it. You have to know how to perform all these operations—which means learning how to work with Windows' files, folders, and disks.

Understanding Files and Folders

All the information on your computer is stored in files. A file is nothing more than a collection of digital data. The contents of a file can be a document (such as a Word memo or Excel spreadsheet), a digital photo or music track, or the executable code for a software program. The contents of a file can be a document from an application (such as a Works worksheet or a Word document), or they can be the executable code for the application itself.

Every file has its own unique name. A defined structure exists for naming files, and its conventions must be followed for Windows to understand exactly what file you want when you try to access one. Each filename must consist of two parts, separated by a period—the name (to the left of the period) and the extension (to the right of the period). A filename can consist of letters, numbers, spaces, and characters and looks something like this: filename.ext.

Windows stores files in folders. A folder is like a master file; each folder can contain both files and additional folders. The exact location of a file is called its path and contains all the folders leading to the file. For example, a file named filename.doc that exists in the system folder, that is itself contained in the windows folder on your c:\ drive, has a path that looks like this: c:\windows\system\filename.doc.

Learning how to use files and folders is a necessary skill for all computer users. You might need to copy files from one folder to another or from your hard disk to a floppy disk. You certainly need to delete files every now and then. To do this in Windows Vista, you use Windows Explorer; in Windows XP, you use the My Documents folder.

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