File Management System

Last Updated: September 21, 2020

Definition - What does File Management System mean?

A file management system is used for file maintenance (or management) operations. It is is a type of software that manages data files in a computer system.

A file management system has limited capabilities and is designed to manage individual or group files, such as special office documents and records. It may display report details, like owner, creation date, state of completion and similar features useful in an office environment.

A file management system is also known as a file manager.

Techopedia explains File Management System

Data on every computer is stored in a complex hierarchical file system constituted of directories and subdirectories beneath them. Files are stashed inside these directories, usually following pre-determined hierarchical structures determined by a program’s instructions.

However, many other files such as pictures, videos and documents are arranged by the user according to his or her own will. A file management system ultimately is the software used to arrange these files, move them, and work with them. In fact, file management systems take care of how the files are organized rather than just how they are stored.

A file management system's tracking component is key to the creation and management of this system, where documents containing various stages of processing are shared and interchanged on an ongoing basis. It consists of a straightforward interface where stored files are displayed. It allows the user to browse, move, and sort them according to different criteria such as date of last modification, date of creation, file type/format, size, etc.

The system may contain features like:

  • Assigning queued document numbers for processing.
  • Owner and process mapping to track various stages of processing.
  • Report generation.
  • Notes.
  • Status.
  • Create, modify, move, copy, delete and other file operations.
  • Add or edit basic metadata.

In Microsoft Windows operating systems, the default file management system is Windows Explorer. On Mac computers, instead, this role is taken belongs to a tool called Finder. Although the functionality offered by these file management systems is pretty basic, they are usually enough for most users.

However, some businesses might want more advanced tools that can, for example, understand the differences between files of the same format or sort them according to their content.

More advanced file management systems can provide additional functions, such as document management software (DMS) which can organize important documents. Files are assigned a label or indexed according to their attributes to build a searchable database for faster retrieval.

A file management system should not be confused with a file system, which manages all types of data and files in an operating system (OS), or a database management system (DBMS), which has relational database capabilities and includes a programming language for further data manipulation.

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