Friday Rant: Why does Windows still place so much importance on filenames?

Friday Rant: Why does Windows still place so much importance on filenames?

Summary: The title says it all really. Why is it that Windows still place so much importance on filenames.

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The title says it all really. Why is it that Windows still place so much importance on filenames.

Take the following example - sorting out digital snaps. These are usually automatically given daft filenames such as IMG00032.JPG at the time they are stored by the camera. In an ideal world you'd only ever have one IMG00032.JPG on your entire system, but the world is far from perfect. Your camera might decide to restart its numbering system, or you might have two cameras using the same naming format. What happens then?

Well, you're then down to using other information such as date modified, file size and so on ... but this means that if you're carrying out an operating such as a mass file consolidation and putting all your photos in one place, then you're having to decide on the spot, based on information given to you in a dialog box, whether a file that you're copying/moving to a particular location is the same as a file that's already there? If there's only one duplicate it's not too bad, if you have dozens, it becomes a major pain in the rear.

Why? Why is the filename the deciding factor? Why not something more unique? Something like a checksum? This way the operating system could decide is two files really are identical or not, and replace the file if it's a copy, or create a copy if they are different. This would save time, and dramatically reduce the likelihood of data loss through overwriting.

Here's an example. I might have two files in separate folders called recipe.txt, but one is a recipe for a pumpkin pie, and the other for apple pie. OK, it was dumb of me to give the files the same name, but it's in situations like this that the OS should be helping me, not hindering me and making me pay for my stupidity. After all, Windows knows, without asking me, that the files, even if they are the same size and created at exactly the same time, are different. Why does Windows need to ask me what to do? Sure, it doesn't solve all problems, but it's a far better solution than clinging to the notion of filenames as being the best metric by which to judge whether files are identical or not.

Come on Microsoft, give us an operating system that's capable of handling files intelligently.

Note: By the way, the "why?" is a rhetorical question - the reason is legacy.

Topics: Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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87 comments
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  • Isn't that the point of indexing?

    Isn't that the point of indexing? I'm not sure how Windows does it, but on OS X it indexes the content of a file (if it's text) or the XML data if a picture. If you have more than one file with the same name, you can preview the content to make sure it's the correct file.
    olePigeon
    • RE: Friday Rant: Why does Windows still place so much importance in the filename?

      @olePigeon
      Get over yourself. Windows 7 is superior to OS X in every way.
      Droid101
      • RE: Friday Rant: Why does Windows still place so much importance in the filename?

        @Droid101
        Windows 7 is INFERIOR to OS X en every way.

        Fixed it for you.
        itguy08
      • RE: Friday Rant: Why does Windows still place so much importance in the filename?

        @Droid101

        Including the production of trolls. Way to go.
        WarhavenSC
      • RE: Friday Rant: Why does Windows still place so much importance in the filename?

        @Droid101
        Every way? I really like that astronomy picture. Not entering all those digits at activation is nice. I kinda like ssh and the bash shell. I can figure out how to change the audio input. Not having a registry seems to make things less complex.

        But we've lost the plot here, haven't we.

        A wiser response would be that while OS X has creator codes and also has a preview mode, and a better soft linking mechanism, the file name is more important than a user may wish for, inasmuch as the path + filename is a unique identifier in the tree data structure that is the file system.

        While two files with different contents and the same name should be distinguishable to the os and I suppose two files with the same contents and different names should be master-and-aliased to save space, I wonder if this wouldn't, as a practical matter, cause more problems for the humans than the machines.
        DannyO_0x98
      • RE: Friday Rant: Why does Windows still place so much importance in the filename?

        @Droid101

        OS X is still lipstick on a pig. Linux is a piglet without the lipstick ;-)
        tonymcs@...
      • RE: Friday Rant: Why does Windows still place so much importance in the filename?

        [i]OS X is still lipstick on a pig. Linux is a piglet without the lipstick[/i]

        While @tonymcs@... is a horses_ass

        lol...
        search & destroy
      • RE: Friday Rant: Why does Windows still place so much importance in the filename?

        Tony,
        Why is so hard for your childish mine to understand that folks believe that Apple and Linux are superior.
        Move on Tony.
        choyongpil
    • The OS should just tell you if they are the same or not. There could be

      subtle changes that would take careful examination to determine if two files are the same. Why make a human being do something that a computer can do easily??
      DonnieBoy
      • Just Like Linux does it?

        @DonnieBoy
        John Zern
      • John Zern: His criticism would apply to Linux as well.

        NT.
        DonnieBoy
    • Windows has had indexing for quite a while...

      @olePigeon And the version in Win7 is very powerful.

      And most pictures don't have 'XML data'.
      TheWerewolf
  • Again a post unrelated to hardware, and critical of Apple's competitors.

    Looks like AKH is on a crusade against Microsoft. You have to go back 34 days to find a negative post about Apple; but tons of FUD on Android, Chrome, and Microsoft.

    Oh, and outside of the "Best Kit List" and that post about batteries that was utterly devoid of any interesting information, this blog has become Software 2.0, exit Hardware 2.0.

    That's it AKH. After following you for years, I've had enough. I'm ditching your feed. I'm sure I'm not the only one to jump ship lately, but it will be more than offset by the tons of Apple fans who are following you in increasingly large numbers.

    Goodbye, and good luck.
    LB75
    • Come on, come on, Adrian it intelligent and can ALSO write about software

      issues. He is right on here, the OS should tell you the two files are the same or not. Now, Linux also has the same problem as far as I know.
      DonnieBoy
      • RE: Friday Rant: Why does Windows still place so much importance in the filename?

        @DonnieBoy I'm not attacking his intelligence, and yes he has a point here, and yes he can write about software. But that's all he does now, except forwarding us GPU manufacturers' press releases. He is also firing at any targetrs that moves, excepts when it's Apple. I've had enough; if you haven't, keep following him. Today is my last day.
        LB75
      • I think the problem is

        This is the Hardware 2.0 Blog.

        It should be vaguely relevant to software.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • Guys, Adrian reserves the right to write articles about anything he wants.

        He also knows a thing or two about software. Give it a freaking break!!!!!
        DonnieBoy
      • Well, yes and no.

        This is his job. Imagine it this way, Donnie: You work at Ford and what your job title says is that you put in windshields. According to your logic, you should be able to just put in any part of a car that you want to.

        It doesn't work that way.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • Adrian's job title is to write interesting articles, TYPICALLY about

        hardware somehow. But, if he runs into interesting things that are purely software, HE WILL WRITE ABOUT IT. Now, I suppose he could do like some of the others and write for more than one blog, but, that is not his style. In any case you can bet he will continue to write about pure software at times.
        DonnieBoy
      • RE: Friday Rant: Why does Windows still place so much importance in the filename?

        @DonnieBoy, Yes - identical problem is found in all Linux/UNIX variants. It isn't so likely to be a pain there though, as a typical response would be to devise a little renaming script - it need only be a few lines. Windows people don't tend to have this initiative.
        peter_erskine@...