Understanding File Structure on You Computer


I run into this a lot so perhaps we need to do a little explaining about file structure on a windows based computer. We all have files we maybe downloaded and need to find. Perhaps a photo of your children or grandchildren we want to share, but we just can't find it. Hopefully this tutorial will help you learn to do these things.

First thing we need to understand is our hard drive. It is physical storage. Very similar to a filing cabinet. In a filing cabinet we store things in an orderly fashion.
In a filing cabinet we have dividers and folders in or behind more dividers. Your hard drive is set up very much in the same way. For most of us we have the one drive and it is the [ C: ] drive.

Think of the C drive as one large filing cabinet. Inside this cabinet we have file folders behind dividers. Think of the directory of our hard drive as the dividers in a filing cabinet. Think of the sub folders as in the directory as file folders within or behind the dividers. Does this begin to make sense to you?
Something like a divider for bills and and one for receipts. Inside of that divider we have folders for rent,insurance,power bill, phone bill and so on.
I hope I am making things a little clearer. Maybe I should go on to some examples.

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From your Start Menu you can go to "My Computer" , using the right click with the mouse gives us a popup menu. Select "Explore"and we get a new menu that will allow us to explore our files on your computer.

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Notice the slide bar? Placing your mouse on top of the slide bar and holding the left mouse buttun down will allow us to slide this bar up and down making it easy to view folders on our hard drive. For most of us we only have one hard drive and that will be the C drive. If you are like me and have multiple drives then you will have additional drive information here as well.

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Here you can make sure you are actually on drive C

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There is an address bar for explorer the same way your browser has an address bar to tell you what URL you are on. You can always tell where you are located on your drive here.

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The Right shows the folders contained within the folder highlighted on the right.
In this case we have the C drive highlighted on the left and have all the subfolders of the C drive showing in the the pane on the right.

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Look again to the left pane. Notice the tiny little plus signs? Each plus sign beside a folder indicates that there are subfolders contained within that folder.

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 No plus sign beside it indicates thereare no subfolders but it still can contain files, just no more subfolders within that particular folder.

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In this example I have clicked a few of the plus signs, changing them into - signs. This indicates that we are inside of a folder looking at yet another folder. You can click the minus sign and it close back up to a + sign. Expanding or closing folders while exploring your hard drive is done this way.

I hope this has shed a little light on how file structure is based on your windows computer. Go ahead and try it on your computer. As long as you only look through these files you will not change any settings on your computer. Unless you are sure of what you are doing or actually need to be in there I would advise against going into your Program Files folder as well as your Windows folder.

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