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An operating system is a large and complex system created by combining small pieces. These pieces are well-defined parts of a system that have carefully defined inputs, outputs, and functions. Though most OSs differ in structure, most of them have similar components.

Components of Operating System

1. File Management

A set of related information that represents programs, source forms, object forms, and data is called a file. A data file can either be numeric, alphabetic, or alphanumeric. Following are the features of file management:

  • Creation and deletion of files and directories.
  • Manipulation of files and directories.
  • Maps files onto secondary storage.
  • File backup on a stable storage media.

2. Process Management

The process management component is the way to manage the multiple processes running simultaneously on the OS. Process management manages all the running processes and makes sure that all of them run efficiently. It also uses the memory allocated to them and shuts them down when required.

The execution of a process must be in a sequence such that at least one instruction executes on behalf of the process. Following are the features of process management:

  • Creation and deletion of processes.
  • Suspending and resuming processes.
  • Synchronizing processes
  • Establishing communication with and between processes.

3. I/O Device Management

I/O device management hides the variations of some hardware devices from the user. Following are the features of I/O device management:

  • Buffers caching system
  • Provides general device driver code
  • Provides drivers for particular hardware devices.
  • Helps know the individualities of a device.

4. Network Management

Network management administers and manages computer networks. Its services include performance management, fault analysis, network provisioning, and service quality management.

In a distributed system all processors have their personal local memory. It is a collection of computers or processors that are connected through a communication network and the processors communicate with the help of communication lines, like fiber optics or telephone lines.

Network management helps connect the network fully or partially so that users can design routing and connection strategies with no connection and security issues.

Following are the features of network management:

  • It offers user access to the various resources that the network shares.
  • We can access shared resources. These help speed-up computation and offer data availability and reliability.
  • We can access different computing resources that vary in size and function like microprocessors, minicomputers, and many general-purpose computer systems with the help of distributed systems.

5. Main memory management

Main Memory comprises large amounts of storage or byte where each storage and byte has an address. In order to conduct the process of memory management a sequence of reads or writes of specific memory addresses is used. We map it to absolute addresses and load it inside the memory in order to execute a program.

Memory management is mainly based on the system’s hardware design as each algorithm needs the support of a hardware. It ensures fast storage so that the CPU can access it directly. It is costly and has a low storage capacity. Despite this, in order to execute a program, the program needs to be in the main memory.

Following are the features of memory management:

  • Keeps track of primary memory.
  • Determines what part of the memory is in use and by whom.
  • Decides which process should get the memory and what amount.
  • Allocates memory on the request of a process.
  • De-allocates memory when a process terminates.

6. Secondary-Storage Management

Programs help access data in the main memory during execution. The main memory is too small and cannot store all the data and programs permanently. Thus, secondary storage acts as a backup to the main memory. Assemblers and compilers are stored on the disk until they are loaded into the memory and use the disk for processing.

Following are the features of secondary-storage management:

  • Allocates storage
  • Manages free space
  • Disk scheduling

7. Security Management

It is necessary to protect the processes from each other’s activities. Security management ensures that the operating files, memory, CPU, and other hardware resources have proper authorization from the OS. No process can do its own I/O, this maintains the integrity of peripheral devices.

Other Activities of Operating System

There are some other important activities that an OS performs:

  • User programs can’t execute I/O operations directly and the OS needs to provide a medium for this.
  • The OS checks the capability of a program to perform file operations.
  • OS ensures information exchange between executing processes irrespective of whether they are in the same system or different.
  • OS components help ensure correct computing and detect errors in the system.


An OS is a complex system. It has many system components like file management, process management, network management, I/O device management, main memory management, secondary-storage management, and security management. There are other activities that an OS performs. It helps check a program’s capability, execute I/O operations, detects errors, ensures correct computing, and ensures information exchange among processes.


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