What is a Computer File?


MP3s, JPGs, and other files are examples.

A file is an informational piece that can be used by the operating systems or any other programs in the computer system.

A computer file is similar to a traditional office file. A computer file can contain any information, just like an office file.

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Learn More about Computer Files

Each file must be understood by the program that uses it. Files of similar types are known to share a common format. The extension is the best way to identify a file’s “format”.

A file attribute is a condition that a specific file has. It can be found in Windows and most other operating systems. You cannot write new information to files that have the read only attribute disabled.

A filename refers to the name that a program or user gives the file to identify it. An image file might be called children-lake-2017.jpg. The file’s name doesn’t change its contents. For example, a video file named image.mp4 doesn’t automatically become a picture file.

Files are stored on optical drives and other storage devices. A file system describes the specific arrangement of files. It starts at the root directory then goes to many subdirectories and folders.

If you accidentally delete a file, a free data retrieval tool is available.

If you need assistance copying files from one place to the next, please refer to our How to Copy a File in Windows guide.

The internet allows you to download files from another computer or file server to your own computer, phone, tablet, and so on. In reverse, backing up data to a Cloud Backup Service means that files are copied and duplicates are stored on a server for backup purposes.

Examples of Files

A copy of an image taken with your camera may be saved in JPG, or TIF formats. These files are the same as MP4 videos or HTML3 audio files. This is true for DOCX files created with Microsoft Word, TXT files containing plain text information, and TXT files.

Some files may be contained in compressed folders to organize them (e.g., the music files in your iTunes or Pictures folder) but they are still files. A ZIP is, in essence, a folder that contains other files and folders but acts as one file.

Another file type that is similar to ZIP is ISO. This is a representation for a physical disk. Although it is a single file, it contains all information that you might find on a physical disc like a movie or video game.

Even though these files may not be identical, you can see that they serve a similar purpose: to keep information in one place.

Converting a file to another format

A file can be converted from one format to another so it can be used with different software or for other reasons.

An MP3 file can be converted so that it is recognized by an iPhone as a ringtone. A DOC document can be converted to PDF format so it can be opened using a PDF reader.

You can accomplish these types of conversions and many more many other tasks using a tool from the Free File Conversion Software or Online Services.


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