Local File System (Directory Structure) in Windows OS

Every computer stores different types of data on a storage device like a hard disk, USB drive, etc. This data need to be positioned in a systematic way so that whenever needed operating system can fetch it easily.

A huge storage disk is divided into smaller chunks of sectors of size 512 bytes. Any data is represented as a file and occupies a few sectors in the disk. The filesystem basically keeps the metadata i.e. file type, owner, permissions, location, etc of the file.

The word filesystem is used in different ways at different places-

  • It generally refers to the entire directory tree of an operating system.
  • A filesystem is also referred to as a specific type of data storage format such as NTFS, fat32, ext3, ext4, etc. Windows supports various data storage formats.
  • A directory or a logical volume mounted to a mount point in an operating system like Linux is also referred to as a filesystem

In this article, we are going to discuss the local filesystem or directory tree structure in Windows operating system.

Windows OS directory structure

In Windows operating system a disk is divided into multiple volumes each one of them is assigned with a drive letter so unlike Linux it can have multiple independent roots. Each directory in Windows is separated by \ i.e. a backslash character.

Windows OS is often installed on the first drive i.e. C:\ which is the root directory. It folders that can be found inside this drive are given below.

c dirve

PerfLogs – It stores system issues and Windows performance reports. In the default configuration, this folder is empty.

ProgramData– This folder may be hidden in your system it stores the program-generated data which is common among all the users. For example, Windows defender store its data at \ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows Defender

Program Files– For 32-bit systems, all the 16-bit and 32-bit programs are installed in this directory, and for the 64-bit system, all 64-bit programs get installed in this directory.

Program Files (x86)– On 64-bit Windows, all the 32-bit programs get installed on this directory.

Users– This directory includes one folder for each user on the system.

Windows– The Windows operating system itself gets installed in this directory. Some important folders of this directory are –

  • AppPatch – It stores application compatibility files
  • System – Stores 16-bit DLL (Dynamic Link Library), normally empty on 64-bit systems
  • System32  – Depending on the Windows it stores either 32-bit or 64-bit DLL files
  • SysWOW64 – It is found on 64- bit systems only and stores 32-bit DLLs
  • WinSxS – This directory stores all system updates and is needed for recovery of the system whenever required


So here we have discussed an overview of top-level directories inside the Windows installation drive. It can be a little different when you move from one Windows version to another.

Now if you have a query or feedback then write us in the comments below.

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