We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Hierarchical File System?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At EasyTechJunkie, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A Hierarchical File System (HFS) is used to arrange and organize digital information on a computer through a series of folders and sub-folders. The largest unit that contains all of the data is typically referred to as the" root," and it can be visualized as the top of a menu or as the left-most entry in a file path. Within this root are then contained one or more folders that can also have additional information within them. At the bottom of a hierarchical file system are individual units of information that can be accessed and read through navigating the structure of the hierarchy.

The term "Hierarchical File System" can be used to refer to a specific format, which was used in an Operating System (OS) developed by Apple Computers®. It is often used in a general context, however, to indicate any type of format that uses this basic structure. The purpose of a hierarchical file system is to organize information in a way that is effective for a computer and fairly intuitive for a user.

Previous methods of arrangement often included all information within a single layer. This meant that when a computer searched through or loaded data, everything stored upon it had to be included. As hard drives and other storage devices increased in size, this become increasingly problematic for both the computer and user. To counteract this, the hierarchical file system was developed, which organized information in layers or directories that could then be more efficiently navigated.

If a hierarchical file system is visualized from the top down, then the top-most layer is the root directory, in which all other data is contained. Within this there are typically numerous folders or sub-directories, which in turn contain additional sub-folders and files. At the very bottom of this visual tree are the different pieces of data that are accessed and used by a computer to retrieve information. This entire structure is essentially a branching network of folders within directories.

The structure of a hierarchical file system can also be documented from left to right to indicate a "file path." This is basically an address that shows where data is located within the various folders and directories of a computer. The root is often indicated on the left, since the path begins there, and each folder is separated by either a forward or back slash, depending on the OS being used. A file path might look like this: "root\folder\sub-folder\file_name." This is the exact same structure as a tree diagram, but simply represented from left to right rather than top to bottom.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.