Operating systems (OS) are a collection of integrated programs which manage computer resources and operations. The OS is not visible to the user, but it provides services that application programs can benefit from to make software and hardware more usable.

Access to the data stored on disks is a fundamental function of the operating system. It requires the OS to be able to provide a method to organize the contents of each file to improve speed, reliability and storage efficiency. This type of structure is known as a file system. It permits files to be given names and attributes and can be organized in directories or folders to form a directory tree.

The majority of computers are equipped with a range of hardware devices, including keyboards, printers, mice, and various other peripherals. These devices depend on device driver software to communicate with the operating system. The operating system installs, configures and manages these drivers to offer the correct service to applications. It also hides the hardware configuration to users, so that they can interact with the system without knowing the precise hardware configuration.

Process Management

An OS keeps an eye on all applications running on the computer and decides how much time should be allocated to each in a multitasking scenario. It also controls the interruptions that programs cause to divert processors’ focus and ensures there enough memory available to allow an application to finish its task without interfering with other processes.

Operating systems also perform other functions that are associated with the overall operation of the computer, such as maintaining the primary memory containing large word or byte arrays which each have an address. The OS can track the number of bytes being used by various applications and then move or delete these bytes to free space.