Difference between File and Folder

Files and folders are the two related terms in a computer's file managers. The term "file" is used to denote a collection of information, while the term "folder" is used to represent a collection of files. Basically, a folder is similar to a container that contains one or more files. A folder can also contain other folders in it, which are referred to as sub-folders. There are several types of file types such as text document, spreadsheet, presentation, image, video, etc

In this article, we will discuss the major differences between a file and a folder. Let's start with a basic overview of files and folders.

What is a File?

Files can be described as a set of related data/information and is stored on secondary storage device. A file can be a data/information file or program file and can contain data in any format. For example, text files, audio files, executable program files and so on.

The type of a file is described by its extension, where the extension is a keyword mentioned in the file name after a period at the end of the name. For example, Document1.txt is a text file, Pic.JPG is a JPEG image, etc.

What is a Folder?

Folders can be described as a container to store files. Thus, in simple words, a folder is a collection of related files stored in the computer memory. A folder can have sub-folders as well. Folders are also known as directories and they are created to store related files on the memory devices.

Files are always stored in folders. An important characteristic of folders is that they do not have any extension.

Difference between File and Forder

The following table highlights all the important differences between a File and a Folder −

Factor File Folder
Extension Files may or may not have extensions. Folders do not have extensions.
Container A file cannot contain another file/folder. A folder can contain any number of file/folders.
Memory size A file has certain size and memory consumption. A folder has no size of its own. It derives the size from the files it contains.
Attributes Name, Extension, Date, Time, Length and Protection (Read-Only, hidden etc.) Name, Date, Time and Protection (Read-Only, hidden etc.)
Supported operations Open, save, rename, print, email and modify file content. Move, rename, delete and share.
Sharing Files cannot be shared on network on their own. Folders can be shared on network.


The most significant difference between a file and a folder is that a file is collection of related information, while a folder is a container that holds related files and other sub-folders.