The subject of directories and subdirectories is one of the hardest concepts for people to understand but a very necessary part of automating your day-to-day business operations with your computer.

Regardless of whether you work in DOS or Windows - you need to group similar files together so you can find them easier and for your computer to function more properly. It's kind of like moving into a new neighborhood only to find your favorite supermarket on the east side of town, your barber shop on the west side, your post office in the north end and your babysitter in the south end. You would be spending more time commuting back and forth between all these places than if they were all grouped together just a few miles from your house.

The easiest way to help you understand how subdirectories and directories work, is best understood by anyone who has worked in an office environment before. Every office contained a file cabinet with separate folders for letters of the alphabet. Normally, each letter of the alphabet was also separated into manila folders, each continuing information on a certain person or company. Your telephone directory is even organized in this similar manner.

Directories and subdirectories on a computer system is EXACTLY the same thing. Your computer hard drive is the main file cabinet. A directory is similar to every letter of the alphabet. A subdirectory is similar to the separate manila folders that go inside the particular directory. But the great thing about a computer system is that there is NO LIMIT to the subdirectories you can make. Your file cabinet would get too big if you did this.

That's why, when you purchase a new software program, you make one directory for it - then copy the files to make the program work "into" it. (If your software comes with a self-installing program, it will automatically do this for you.) For example, I have a main directory called "Graphics" on my hard drive. Then I have several subdirectories "inside" this main "Graphics" directory called "People," "Animals," "Office," etc. This way, when I want a graphic of a person, I will know to look for it in the main "Graphics" directory, inside the "People" subdirectory.

Perhaps the reason that some people get confused is because the words "directory" and "subdirectory" sound alike. I wish the computer gurus would have named them something like "Main File" and "Manila Folder." Perhaps we could have identified with them easier. Maybe it was even a scare tactic to make them sound more intelligent than us?

If you have a PC-compatible computer, making a directory and subdirectory are easy. Let's try it out and you'll see what I mean. Go to your computer now and make sure you are at the root directly (the beginning). To check and make sure you are at the beginning just look at your screen. It will say "C:\" meaning that you are at the "C prompt." Now - let's make a directory so you can copy information from your floppy drive onto your hard drive by typing: MD/BDISK and press the ENTER key. "MD" stands for "make directory." Wow - you just learned a little about the DOS computer language. Simple huh?

Now, if you type in "DIR" (which stands for directory listing) you will see your new directory file called "BDISK". To open up the BDISK directory, type: CD\BDISK and press the ENTER key. "CD" stands for "change directory." See how easy this is?

Now stick a floppy disk into your "B" drive. It doesn't matter what it is because we are only going to use it as a demonstration now. Type in: COPY B*.*C:\BDISK and press the ENTER key. This language translated is telling your computer to copy all the information from the "B" disk to your directory called BDISK. To DOS, *.* means everything.

Now, if you look in the BDISK directory, you will find all the information on your B disk has been copied into this file. But don't leave it there. This was only a test. To delete the information, make sure you are in the BDISK directory by typing in: CD\BDISK and press the ENTER key. Now type in: DEL*.* and press the ENTER key. Miraculously all the information you just copied is deleted and erased!