A set of related records or data treated as a unit.
In computing, a collection of data or a program stored in a computer’s external memory (for example, on disc). It might include anything from information on a company’s employees to a program for an adventure game. Serial files hold information as a sequence of characters, so that, to read any particular item of data, the program must read all those that precede it. Random-access files allow the required data to be reached directly.
Files usually consist of a set of records, each having a number of fields for specific items of data. For example, the file for a class of schoolchildren might have a record for each child, with five fields of data in each record, storing: (1) family name; (2) first name; (3) house name or number; (4) street name; (5) town. To find out, for example, which children live on the same street, one would look in field 4.