File system - general information

File system - general information

In addition to names, files on a storage medium may also have additional attributes that describe in detail their individual characteristics. For example, data format, creation date, last modified date, possible file access restrictions, etc. All features of a file are also referred to as "metadata", as opposed to the actual data in the file. Metadata, including filenames, is usually stored in the "Contents" or "Table of Contents" (in English table of content, TOC) index or data carrier, respectively. When the number of files is large, they can be grouped into so-called folders or directories (with emphasis on the last syllable; English: directories), which are also listed in the table of contents. Since folders can contain files as well as other folders, this usually results in a hierarchical file system.

Creating a file system and an index is not a trivial task. The goals to be achieved are to constantly ensure the integrity and speed of access to files that can constantly change, especially for current hard drives (2010) which can have a capacity of about 2 TB (2 bytes) and even more, containing hundreds of thousands of files on a single disk.

Each type of storage medium (e.g. hard disks, magnetic tapes, optical disks, flash memory) uses a file system with a specific structure. Starting with a file name and an implemented file system, the operating system and its routines access the required inode, find or compute the address of the file on the appropriate storage medium, and finally can access the file's data. Modern data transfers such as hard drives also have their own "intelligence" (microcode or firmware) that makes it easier to access files and data and may also offer some special features such as:

  • temporary fault meters (SMART or others), which, based on the statistics of automatically repaired temporary faults, can estimate in advance the time of irreversible failure of the device; a little earlier, however, they sound the alarm about replacing it with a new one, without losing data;
  • spare sector management, activated and used automatically in case of failure of the original sectors.
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However, the latter features are no longer related to the file system on the storage medium, but rather to the physical location of any type of data (files, directories, backups, special entries, etc.) on the storage medium.

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