System File

What Does System File Mean?

A system file is a critical document in a computer system without which it cannot operate correctly or at all.


These files usually come as part of the operating system which it uses for its core operations or it may be part of a device driver or other type of resource.

Techopedia Explains System File

A system file is a crucial part of the system, hence the name.

System files are usually essential to an operating system or driver which is why they are protected from accidental deletion or even intentional deletion through the use of permissions.

This is usually done by flagging a file with a system attribute. Specific examples of system files may have the .sys extension, especially in Windows.

These files are also usually located in specific folders that identify it to be a system folder. For Windows, these include the System32 folder, the System Suitcase and files on the sys location on the Mac OS, and the root folder of the Linux file system called sysfs.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.