Difference between directory and folder in windows

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We have heard of this since our childhood but very few actually knows the difference between directory and folder. Both these terms are used interchangeably most times but there is technically a difference between directory and folder.

A folder is a way of managing or organizing files systematically in a computer. A folder may contain another folders and files varying from media files to word documents to programs. Folders serve as containers of files and other folders on your PC. Folders could be a virtual folder (like Control Panel) or a file system folder (like C:\WINDOWS).

A directory is a system that is used by the computer, not the user, for managing and storing files in the computer hard disk drive. It is similar to a telephone directory. In Windows based computer system, a File allocation table is used for keeping a track of locations of files on the hard disk of the computer. It makes finding files and folders easier on your system.

Directory is a subset of Folders.

For more simple explanation, let us take an example. Suppose you click on any section of your computer, C: drive, D: drive, E: drive etc. and right click on any folder or file and check its properties. A path is displayed by the computer stating C:/ folder name which is the directory system used by the computer to locate the folder you clicked on. However you don’t find such thing with My Computer, Control Panel, Recycle Bin.

In a nutshell, we can say-

  1. A folder is used by user to organize files and other folders whereas directory is used by computer for locating and organizing files on hard disk.
  2. Both are used for storage space but one is a user way and other is computer way. That’s they are used interchangeably.
  3. Folders contain files and other folders which are located by the computer using directory system.
  4. All directories are folders but not all folders are directory.

This simple explanation clearly denotes the difference between folder and  directory in a windows based system.

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