What Is File Data Structure in C?


Heather Bennett

What Is File Data Structure in C?

In the C programming language, a file data structure is used to define and manage files. A file is a collection of related data stored in a specific location on a storage medium, such as a hard drive or flash drive.

The file data structure provides a way to interact with these files programmatically.

File Management Functions

C provides several built-in functions for file management, allowing you to perform various operations on files. These functions are part of the standard C library and can be included using the `stdio.h` header file. Some of the commonly used file management functions include:

  • fopen(): This function is used to open a file and returns a pointer to its file structure.
  • fclose(): It is used to close an opened file.
  • fread(): This function reads data from a file into memory.
  • fwrite(): It writes data from memory into a file.
  • fseek(): Used to set the position indicator within a file.
  • ftell(): Returns the current position of the position indicator within a file.
  • feof(): Checks if the end of a file has been reached.

File Structure in C

In C, files are represented by using pointers to structures. The `FILE` structure provided by `stdio.h` contains information about an opened file, including its name, access mode, error flags, and current position within the file.

To open a file, you can use the `fopen()` function, which takes two parameters: the name of the file and the access mode. The access mode specifies whether you want to read, write, or append to the file.

The function returns a pointer to the `FILE` structure.

Once a file is opened, you can perform various operations on it using different file management functions. For example, you can use `fread()` and `fwrite()` to read from and write to a file respectively.

The `fseek()` function allows you to set the position indicator within a file, while `ftell()` returns the current position of the indicator.

After performing all necessary operations on a file, it is important to close it using the `fclose()` function. This ensures that any changes made to the file are saved and resources are released.


Understanding file data structures in C is essential for working with files effectively. By utilizing various file management functions provided by C, you can open, read from, write to, and close files efficiently.

Remember to always close files after finishing operations on them to prevent resource leaks and ensure data integrity.

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