A file is a pool of data in the filesystem. On userlevel, it's referenced using a name, a hardlink to the file.

If a file is not referenced anymore (number of hardlinks to it drops to 0) then the space allocated for that file is re-used, unless it's still used by some process.

The file-data splits into actual payload (file contents) and some metadata like filesize, filemode or timestamps. The metadata is stored in the inode.

Strictly spoken, a hardlink (also called "filename") points to the inode which organizes a file, not to the file itself.

See also


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