By Walton Dell
December 28, 1998
|Before you can begin to use Windows Explorer, you must first
understand the basic file system used by most
computers (including all Windows systems)...
The Hierarchical File System
On a modern PC there will be at least 2 drives. Every modern computer has a DVD-ROM drive for access to high capacity discs. Since you can not save data on ordinary compact discs, you will also have a floppy disk drive. Floppy disks are an old technology you'll probably only use if you need to transfer data to another computer. Finally, you will have a hard disk. The hard disk is the computer's main internal storage. You can not see the hard disk without opening the computer.
Each drive can store hundreds or thousands of files. These files are organized into locations called folders since it would be very confusing otherwise. The top level of a disk is called the root folder. This is the starting location when you first view the disk. Every folder can contain sub-folders (a folder within another folder) in addition to files.
Do not get files and folders mixed up. If a
person asks for the "file on Joe" in an office, what they really mean is
"folder on Joe". A file is usually just one specific item. For
example, you may have a file named "Letter to Joe.doc" which would obviously be
a letter to Joe. You would not just have a "file on Joe";
instead, you could create a folder named "Joe" in which you could place all
files related to Joe. This is not necessary, however, if you don't need to keep
documents related to Joe separate from other files. A computer folder can hold thousands
Windows Explorer shows the contents of your computer using two window panes. The left pane shows only folders. A plus sign will appear to the left of a folder if it contains additional sub-folders. Click the plus sign to "expand" the view. Once you have found the folder you want, single-click it to select it.
The right window pane shows the contents of whatever folder you have selected in
the left pane. Right-click on any file listed and you will get a pop-up menu showing
options for that file. Some of the options are delete, rename, send-to floppy disk
(this actually means copy-to floppy disk), and open.
To move a file, first find the file you wish to move. Next,
find the destination folder on the left, but do not click it! Note:
it is ok to click the plus sign next to a folder. (When you click the plus sign, the
selected folder does not change.) Now simply drag
the file from the right window pane to the destination folder in the left window pane.
If the file is a program, hold down shift when you drag it to make sure it is moved
(otherwise a shortcut is created).
Find the file you wish to delete. Click it so that it is selected. Next, press the delete key on the keyboard (or click the File menu, then choose Delete).
Note: The file will be sent to the "Recycling Bin" in case you
delete a file by mistake. You can go to the recycling bin to either restore the file
or delete it permanently.
Find and single-click the file you wish to rename. Press the F2
key at the top of the keyboard to start renaming the file. Type the new name.
Note: Be sure to keep the extension! For example, if the file is "Old
Name.doc" be sure to rename it "New Name.doc" not just
Some Common Folders
The number of folders and files on a modern computer can be overwhelming! Here are some common folders you may want to look at and how to get there:
See also: My tutorial on The Hard Disk.
Copyright © 1998-2006 by Walton Dell
Web Site: wdell.com