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The operating systems (DOS, Win95/98, WinNT/2000/XP) maintain certain properties associated with every file and directories in addition to the file contents (data inside the file).

Such properties include also:

  • -file size in bytes
  • -file date/time (creation time, last-modify time, last-access time)
  • -icons (Windows: Standard program -icons are often stored in another DLL)
  • -file attributes

File and directory attributes in Windows

  • A Archive
  • H Hidden
  • R Read-only
  • S System

The Archive attribute

The Archive attribute is automatically set when a file is saved to disk. Backup programs target these files as "not backed-up". After the files have been copied, the archive attribute is removed to indicate the file is now "backed-up". Whenever this file is changed (Size,date...), the Archiv attribute is set again.

The Hidden attribute

A DOS attribute that hides a directory or file from the DOS DIR command and prevents the directory or file from being deleted or copied. Also it is not normally displayed in directory listings or Open Files dialogue boxes. The usual reason for hiding folders is because they are important to system or program operation and should not be deleted or moved. Since many file applications has the feature to ignore the Hidden attribute bit, the file with the Hidden attribute bit is not always invisible. Hidden (and System) folders will often also have the Read-only attribute set.

The Read-only attribute

The Read-only attribute allows a file to be accessed but not modified. Indicates that no one can write to this file. Total Commander will ask you to delete files with the read-only attribute. System and Hidden files or folders will often also have the Read-only attribute set.

The System attribute

Marks files and directories that are used only by the operating system. It prevents files used only by the operating system from being deleted/moved/compressed or copied. The System attribute is normally reserved for files that are necessary for DOS/Windows to load properly. System (and Hidden) files or folders will often also have the Read-only attribute set.