A system component is a process, program, utility, or another part of a computer's operating system that helps to manage different areas of the computer. While similar to a computer program, a system component is not something an end-user directly interacts with when using a computer.
There are multiple system components at work in a computer operating system, each serving a specific function. Together, they allow the operating system and computer to function correctly and efficiently.
The process management component is tasked with managing the many processes that are running on the operating system. Software programs each have one or more processes associated with them when they are running. For example, when you use an Internet browser, there is a process running for that browser program. The operating system also has many processes associated with it, each performing a different function. All these processes are managed by process management, which keeps processes in order, running efficiently, using memory allocated to them, and shutting them down when necessary.
The memory management component, also sometimes called main memory management or primary memory management, handles primary memory, or RAM. When programs are running, including the operating system, those programs store data in RAM for quick access at any time. Memory management monitors and manages memory, knowing which blocks of memory are in use, which programs are using memory, and which memory blocks are available to be used.
The file management component manages anything to do with computer files. When a file is created, file management is involved in the file creation, including where it is stored on a storage device. When a file is modified, file management helps with the modification of the file. File management helps with deleting files and freeing up the space for another file to be stored there at a later time.
Secondary storage management
The secondary storage management component works with storage devices, like a hard drive, USB flash drive, DVD drive, or floppy disk drive. While the file management component takes care of the actual files on the storage device, the secondary storage management component manages the storage device itself. It manages the available space, or free space, on the storage device and allocating space for new files to be stored there.
Requests for data on a storage device are handled by secondary storage management as well. For example, when a user double-clicks on a file to open it, secondary storage management receives that request and helps retrieve it from a storage device.
The access management component is tasked with managing user access to data on a computer. User accounts provide each user with specific access to software, files, and functionality in an operating system. The ability to install a software program is controlled by access management. Access to view, edit, and delete a file is managed by access management. Changing set tings in the operating system is managed by access management. How a user interacts with the operating system and uses software is handled by access management.
System resource management
The system resource management component is responsible for managing the allocation of system resources, like memory and CPU time. When programs are running, they require the use of memory and CPU time to function properly. System resource management determines how much memory and CPU time that program is allowed to use at any given time.
Managing system resource usage is a big responsibility, as it can directly impact the performance of the computer. If too many resources are allocated to one process, other programs and processes may become slow or unresponsive. If the operating system does not have enough resources allocated to it, the entire computer can run slow or stop working altogether. System resource management ensures system resources are allocated properly.