Directory

Tree directory structureA directory is a location for storing files on your computer. Directories are found in a hierarchical file system such as DOS, OS/2, Unix, etc. When referring to a directory, a user commonly indicates the name of the directory.

In the example to the right is an example of the tree command output that shows all the local and subdirectories (e.g. the "big" directory in the cdn directory). When looking at this overview, the C: drive is considered the current directory and root directory because there is nothing beneath it and you can't go back any further. This may also be referred to as a home directory if you're using an operating system with multiple accounts.

Tip: In a GUI such as Microsoft Windows directories are commonly referred to as folders. However, a directory and folder are synonymous.

Below is an example of what a directory path would like in MS-DOS.

Windows command line path

In the above example, C: is the drive letter and the current directory is System32, which is a subdirectory of the Windows directory.

Below is an example of what a directory path may look like in a Linux or Unix variant.

/usr/bin

In the above example, the current directory is bin and it is a subdirectory of the usr directory. The beginning forward slash is the root directory.

To change a directory in MS-DOS, Linux, Unix, and most other command line operating systems, use the "cd" command.

To make a directory in MS-DOS, Linux, Unix, and most other command line operating systems, use the "mkdir" command.

Below is a listing of reserved characters that cannot be used when creating a file or directory in most operating systems. When creating directories if any of these characters are used you'll receive an error or encounter other problems.

\ / : * ? " < > |

Related pages

Also see: Absolute path, Change directory, Current directory, File, Folder, Hierarchical file system, Home directory, Mkdir, MRUD, Network directory, Operating system terms, Parent, Path, PWD, Root directory, Shared directory, Subdirectory, Wd