System component

Updated: 04/26/2017 by Computer Hope

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. Not to be confused with a hardware component, a system component is similar to a computer program, but is not something an end-user directly interact 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.

Process Management

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 of 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.

Memory Management

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 the memory and knows which blocks of memory are in use, which programs are using memory, and which memory blocks are available to be used.

File Management

The file management component manages just about anything to do with computer files. When a file is created, file management is involved in the creation of the file, including where it is stored on a storage device. When a file is modified, file management helps with the modification of the file. If a file is deleted, file management is there to help with deleting the file and freeing up the space for another file to be stored there at a later time.

File management also handles tasks related to the creation, modification, and deletion of folders, or directories, on a storage device.

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 in the retrieval of that file from the storage device.

Access Management

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 within 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 settings within the operating system is managed by access management. How a user interacts with the computer operating system and uses software is handled by access management, in relation to the permissions they have been granted through user accounts.

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.

File management, Memory management, Operating System terms, Processes, Secondary storage, Software terms, System resource