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Computer Desktop Encyclopedia
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A CDE Definition

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random file

A file organized via an index. Also called a "direct file" or a "direct access file," it enables quick access to specific records or other elements within the file rather than having to read the file sequentially. The index points to a specific location within the file, and the file is read from that point. Contrast with sequential file. See direct access.

direct access

(1) See Microsoft DirectAccess.

(2) The ability to read or write a specific storage location without having to go through any locations before or after it. Generally synonymous with "random access." Magnetic disks, SSDs, optical data discs and RAM are the primary direct access hardware in a computer.

Access Via Software First
Data are commonly accessed by first scanning an index or by a direct access computation that determines their storage addresses. See index, direct access method and random file.

Early Direct Access
Using a deck of 3x14" magnetic cards, NCR's CRAM was a direct access storage device in the 1960s. By the end of that decade, magnetic disks were becoming mainstream. See CRAM for more details. (Image courtesy of NCR Corporation.)

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