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Computers store data in a series of directories. Each directory, or folder, may contain files or other directories. If a directory is located within another directory, it is called a subdirectory (or subfolder) of that folder. Subdirectories may refer to folders located directly within a folder, as well as folders that are stored in other folders within a folder. For example, the main directory of a file system is the root directory. Therefore, all other folders are subdirectories of the root folder.
The contents of your computers operating system are organized using subdirectories. After all, you can imagine how hard it would be to locate documents on your computer if they were all stored in a single folder. By using subdirectories, users can navigate through folders in a logical hierarchy.
For example, in Windows, the drive contains a Documents and Settings subdirectory. Within this directory, are subdirectories for each user of the computer. Within each users folder are other subdirectories, including Desktop, My Documents, and Start Menu. In Mac OS X, the main hard disk contains a Users folder. This directory contains a list of all the users home folders. Within each users home folder are several other subdirectories, such as Documents, Movies, and Music.
Both Windows and Mac users can create subdirectories to further organize data within these predefined folders. This can be useful when categorizing data on your hard drive. For example, if you store all your digital photos within the Pictures folder, you might create subdirectories that are named by date, such as 2009-06-01, 2009-07-04, 2009-08-15, etc. You could also create subdirectories based on the source of each image, such as Digital Photos, Screenshots, and Scanned Images. Regardless of what folder names you choose, creating subdirectories can save you a lot of time when browsing through files in the future.