Files, what they are and how they work?

The information on a computer is stored in files. Normally files are made up of a name, a point and an extension (i.e. filename.wav). The name serves to distinguish some other files and the extension to attribute some specific properties. These associated properties or "file type" are given by the letters that gives the extension. Normally maximum there are three letters, although, there are some exceptions (.jpeg, .html, .java, etc.). Each of these small groups of characters is associated with a file type. Let's take, for example, a file called "stencil.txt" his name will be stencil and its extension will be "txt". This extension is associated with the type of files that contain text, therefore we can assume that there will be something written inside. In fact, this file extension is the most common used in any operating system.

However, may exist a little problem, if we explore a directory or folder only see DOCUMENT (without the .TXT). This is because Windows, by default, hides file extensions. This is potentially dangerous because there are types of files that are potential virus containers, and if you do not know your extension you wouldn't realize this inconvenience. For Windows to show extensions go to Windows Explorer and from the Tools menu will access the folder options. In the new window will indicate the View tab and uncheck the list in the "Hide file extensions for known file types".

Classification of Files

There are different classifications of files, some of which are as follows:

According to their elements

Input files: These files are composed of a series of data stored in an input device.

Output files: These files contain information that is displayed from the computer.

Progress files: These files contain information that is constantly updated.

Constant files: These files are composed of records whose fields are fixed or low-frequency variation.

Files maneuver: these are created at the time a program is executed and erased once finishes execution, they are auxiliary.

According to the data

ASCII: In this type of file, data is stored through a simple text. This allows the exchange of data containing as well as to create files that the user can modify.

Binary: this kind of files, however, stores information in a language that only includes the computer itself, such as colors, sounds, images or orders. These files are lighter weight than others.

According to the mechanism used to access files

Direct files: each record can be read and written directly.

Sequential files: these files have organized records in sequential order, so, to read one, you must  read the above.

Index files: on these files you can access records from the index they have.

Some considerations about files

A file is an information asset, digital in this case, which reflects the history and memory of the organization versus its activities. Examples of these assets are invoices, orders, accounting documents, records, email, etc. These assets are characterized by:

  • They should not be alterable once created (This is applicable to legal constant documents or files, not for processing, inputs or outputs).
  • There is some kind of legal or corporate to be kept for a minimum time requirement.
  • They have value to any organization.
  • Most files have document form, on paper or in digital format, so, this discipline is closely associated with document management.

ISO provides the following definition: "Discipline responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposal of records, including the process of capturing and maintaining evidence and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records ".

Moreover, the International Council of Archives defines file as: "a specific piece of recorded information generated, collected or received in the initiation, conduct or completion of an activity and that brings sufficient content, context and structure to try or demonstrate such activity "

In general, there are a number of principles, general practices and regulatory frameworks in which file management in any organization was based, in any case, is not subject that touches us because this mini tutorial aims to be more technical than administrative law anyway, if you want more information, refer to the International Standard on Recordkeeping, ISO 15489.