What is a Directory?

The directory or sometimes called a folder is file systems use them to organize files within a storage device, such as an HDD or SSD. For example, system files may be in one folder, while user files may be stored in another.

An index of websites where the listings are compiled by hand, rather than by a crawler. Whether general or niche-oriented, the best of these sites are structured, reviewed and regularly updated by humans with transparent editorial guidelines.

While they often have files, they may also contain other directories or subfolder. A user folder, for instance, may include folders such as Documents, Pictures, and Videos. Each of these folders may contain files and other subdirectories. This resulting directory structure represented visually, would look like an upside-down tree. The top-level folder of a volume that contains all other folders is aptly labeled the root directory.


Historically, and even on some modern embedded systems, the file systems either had no support for directories at all or only had a “flat” folder structure, meaning subdirectories were not supported; there was only a group of top-level folders, each containing files. In modern systems, a folder can contain a mix of files and subfolders.

The location of an individual file or folder within a directory can be represented by a path, such as C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\. As you browse through your file system, whenever you open a subfolder, it is called “moving down a folder.” If you open the folder that contains the current folder it is called “moving up a folder.”


The terms “directory” and “folder” can be used interchangeably. However, folders are technically the visual representation of a directory. In other words, a folder is an icon with a name that represents a directory in the file system.



« Back to Glossary Index