What is File Management System?

April 23, 2023 - (Free)

File management is one of the operating system’s fundamental but essential features. File management in an operating system is simply software that manages or manipulates the files (video, audio, documents, pdf, text, etc.) present on a computer. The file system of the operating system can administer individual and grouped files on the computer system. The file system of the operating system provides information about a file’s creation time, proprietor, location, and status.

What is a File Management System?

A file management system is software that enables the storage and administration of data files through a single interface. Additionally, it provides functionality for file manipulation.

Frequently, database management systems are erroneously referred to as file management system or file manager. A file management system, unlike a database management system, does not have an associated programming language nor relational database capabilities.

A file management system’s capabilities include the ability to:

  • Create, delete, read, write, and modify files
  • Organize files hierarchically
  • Access all stored files, including those created by others (with authorization)
  • Share access to files based on permissions
  • Move files between locations and data between files
  • Back up and recover files
  • Edit files’ metadata
  • Sort files (e.g., by date, name, file format, size)

History of File Management

When computers were initially utilized to handle and store vast volumes of data, in the early days of computing, file management systems were first developed. The earliest directory-based file management systems allowed users to save and retrieve files by name. With the advent of hierarchical file systems, which allowed users to group files into folders and subfolders, file management systems advanced over time.

With the advent of relational databases, which allowed users to store and retrieve data in a structured and ordered manner, file management systems advanced further in the 1970s and 1980s. The advent of icons, menus, and other user-friendly features in Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) during the 1980s and 1990s improved the usability of file management systems.

Why is File Management Important?

Although file management systems are frequently taken for granted, their importance cannot be understated. File management systems facilitate digital filing. This enables users to store and access all of their files from a single interface, as opposed to launching separate applications for each file type.

File Management Benefits

Compared to paper filing, file management software and systems offer significant advantages, including the following:

  • Organization, monitoring, and retrieval of files are facilitated.
  • Search functionality
  • lowered storage expenses
  • Enhanced privacy and security
  • Backups for emergency preparedness
  • Collaboration in real time Version history for reversion
  • Fewer misfiles
  • Simple identification of inactive documents for archiving or destruction
  • Enhanced regulatory conformance
  • Efficient eDiscovery
  • streamlined processes
  • Improved efficiency

Who Needs File Management Software?

File management software is a necessity for the vast majority of computer users. A file management system functions as the filing cabinet as digital files replace paper files. File management not only organizes files, but also improves accessibility and provides essential security to safeguard sensitive data.

Choosing a File Management System

Before deciding on a file management system, it is prudent to consider the alternatives. On-premises and cloud-based file management systems are the two primary categories.

The file administration system should:

  • Be constructed with a central repository for all files and documents to facilitate quick access, sharing, viewing, and modifying.
  • Include a backup and recovery system.
  • Reduce the amount of time spent categorizing and retrieving files.
  • Provide tools for managing user profile access and permission levels.
  • Allow the integration of third-party systems.
  • Observe corporate, industry, and government laws and regulations.

On-Premise File Management System

The software for an on-premises file management system is installed on local workstations or servers. Most desktops and laptops include an individual-use file management application.

Cloud-Based File Management System

The aforementioned on-premises file management systems provide rudimentary functionality but are not designed for mobility. Cloud-based file management systems provide enhanced functionality and ubiquitous accessibility. Because all data is stored in the cloud, it can be synchronized to multiple devices and accessed via web browser at any time, from any location.

File Management Use Cases

The applications of a file management system include the following file and folder tasks:

  • Finding
  • Opening
  • Copying
  • Moving
  • Deleting
  • Compressing

There are numerous use cases for file management; three are described below.

Secure File Access and Sharing

Using security features such as password protection, encryption, and audit trails, file management software safeguards sensitive data. This functionality contributes to the security of information, while additional sharing capabilities ensure that only authorized users can access files and folders.

In addition, document control capabilities enable administrators to determine who has access to what information and assist them in enforcing access policies.

Real-Time Document Retrieval

Users can instantaneously access files with a file management system, as opposed to the sorting and searching required with paper files. Folders and files with metadata properties can be indexed by file management systems to facilitate and expedite document retrieval. Users can search for and locate files in a variety of methods, including by name, file type, date, or content category.

Paperless Workflow

Not only does replacing paper documents and files with digital versions save space, but it also facilitates workflow optimization. Files can be shared and accessed without regard to the geographical locations of users across organizations. With digital documents, e-signatures, and online forms, a file management solution can streamline the majority of paper-based processes.

File Management Best Practices

Each organization’s file structure within a file management system will be unique. It is crucial to consider how documents and folders are created and utilized when implementing a file management system. This will aid in establishing the optimal file management practices for the organization and its consumers.

Best practices for file management outline fundamental considerations that will guide the successful implementation and use of these systems, such as:

Evaluate where broad and shallow or narrow and deep file structures should be created. There are more top-level folders than subfolders and more documents stored in multiple folders when a broad approach is taken. A narrow and thorough approach generates multiple subfolders beneath folders of the highest level.

There are advantages to both approaches, and each is effective for various types of content. Numerous organizations utilize a hybrid strategy to capitalize on the benefits of each hierarchy model.

Utilization of files determines the optimal storage strategy. Some organizations find success with on-premise file management systems. Cloud-based file management systems are preferable for organizations with mobile workforces.

The file hierarchy can affect the mobile user experience; files should be accessible with the fewest clicks possible. With cloud-based file management systems, synchronization policies should be in place to ensure that all systems and devices have the most recent files.

Backup and Recovery
Whether the file management system is on-premises or in the cloud, backup and recovery procedures are essential. Protocols should be established to define when backups are performed, who conducts them, and how they can be accessed if recovery is necessary.

Policy and Process Documentation
All file management policies and procedures must be well-documented and accessible to all users. Documentation supports implementation and enforcement by assuring consistent file structures and the security of data.

File Names
Protocols should be established to direct the naming conventions of files and folders within the file management system. Again, this standard will differ from organization to organization. Effective file and folder naming emphasizes precision and uniformity. Users should be able to quickly and readily identify the type, function, and content of a file based on its name.

Fast, Easy, and Secure Access with File Management

A file management system expedites, simplifies, and safeguards access to information; even a rudimentary file management system enables users to operate more efficiently and effectively. Adding the sophistication that cloud-based file management systems provide exponentially increases the benefits. Utilize file management systems to their fullest potential by adhering to and enforcing best practices.


A file management system is an essential tool for managing and keeping data on a computer or other digital device. Users may quickly and effectively search, open, modify, and remove files using a file management system. Users may easily get files whenever they need them because the system makes sure they are stored logically and in order. Businesses and individuals can enhance productivity, optimize workflow, and save time and money by installing a file management system. In order to properly manage your digital files, it is crucial to comprehend the fundamentals of file management systems.