Network Terminology

filesystem
A term referring to all the files and directories on a disk or disk partition. Each server filesystem has its own quotas (disk space limits) for each individual. There are many directories and files on a filesystem. Your personal computer hard disk could be referred to as a filesystem; each diskette you have could also be called a filesystem.

directory
A collection of files and/or other directories. Often also referred to as a "folder".

file
A single entity stored on disk, although a file may
contain a number of subunits. For example, an email
file may contain hundreds of different email messages.

folder
An alternative name for a "directory". However, email files, containing many email messages, are also sometimes referred to as "email folders" even though they are files with subunits (email messages) in them.

home directory
When you initially log into a computer, you are in your"home directory" (also referred to simply as "HOME").HOME contains your files and directories, including a "mail" directory where saved email files (folders)are stored. It also contains "links" and dot files. HOME does _not_ contain your INBOX -- your incoming mail folder. INBOX is on another filesystem entirely.

dot files
Note, your HOME directory contains "dot files" -- files beginning with a period, such as .cshrc, .login, .pinerc, .newsrc. Never alter those files unless you know what you are doing. Never delete them! Your account may not start up properly if any of these files are removed.

link
Links (or more strictly speaking, symbolic links) are often used to tie filesystems together. A link may look like a directory, but that directory may be on another filesystem or even another computer system. The link to "world" is a commonly used link that allows you to move from your HOME directory to your world directory on the web server.

quota
A quota is a limit of how much space you can use on a filesystem. Normally there are two elements to quotas:

  •  hard quota or limit:
    This is the absolute limit of space.
    You cannot exceed this.
  • soft quota:
    This basic quota can be exceeded for a certain time or "grace period".
    After the grace period expires, you cannot exceed this quota.