What Does Globbing Mean?

Globbing is the process of using wildcard characters to request or evaluate sets of files with the same partial names or sets of characters. Users make the wildcard represent an unknown character or string to search for a wider set of filenames on a particular domain.


Techopedia Explains Globbing

Two of the most common forms of globbing are using a question mark to represent a certain unnamed character in the file, and using an asterisk look for a continuous string of characters. But of these two methods, the asterisk method is probably more popular, and goes back to the popular use of PC-DOS command-line operating systems. In these systems, a user would enter a command to search the drive to return lists of filenames with the same extensions, or with the same partial titles. Since the file extension came after the dot in the file name, the user would get a list of all files with a given extension with a command like this:


On the other hand, users could look for partial titles by entering other characters with the asterisk on the left side of the dot – for example, for a list of executables with titles including the character set “run,” the command would look like this:


Another use of globbing is in a certain kind of hacking that promotes a denial of service attack. Globbing requires quite a few resources on the part of the server to look for many different files in a large archive of files. Creating sufficiently vague globbing commands can essentially send the server running on a wild goose chase and deplete those resources.


Related Terms

Latest General Computing Terms

Related Reading

Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse 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 explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…