Functions of Operating Systems: Fully Explained

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You re in the right place if you want to learn more about operating systems and the devices they run on. I m sure you re already familiar with the devices themselves. These can be anything from laptops, desktops, tablets, or even smartphones. We ll be covering the functions of operating systems and their role in the modern world of computing.

What Is an Operating System?

An operating system is basically the software program or application that handles or manages the computer s hardware and software resources. It acts like a bridge or an intermediary between the hardware and the software that operates on it. The operating system(OS) does many things, some of which are managing memory, scheduling tasks, controlling the output and input devices, and even handling the security of the system.

Operating systems have a long history behind them. They ve been around ever since computers were expensive and large enough to fit in rooms. This is way back in the 1950s and at that time computers were mainly used by large corporations or government agencies. Early computers were actually coded using machine language which is very difficult to use. This made the older computers complex and challenging to maintain and use. We have come a long way from that and computers have evolved along with operating systems. They are much cheaper, smaller, and more powerful. You ll also find operating systems now chock full of all kinds of features and upgrades.

Almost every device we use today has an operating system running on it.Operating systemsare a vital part of today s modern world. Without them, we would not be able to use these devices. Operating systems allow us to run different software on them, making it easier for us to use our devices. They give us an environment in which we can install the software we want to use. A good example is the Windows operating system and all the different office productivity software we can install to make our work easier.

User Interface Functions

When it comes to functions of operating systems, the user interface plays a crucial role in facilitating interaction between users and computers. A user interface is what we use to interact with a computer or an operating system. We can use it to issue commands, give input, or access computer resources.

The command line interface(CLI) and graphical user interface(GUI) are the two maintypesof user interface functions. The command line interface lets us enter commands by typing text. On the other hand, the graphical user interface uses visual elements like icons, windows, and menus. We can then use a mouse or touchpad to navigate and manipulate the system.

Some examples of user interface functions in operating systems include the Start menu inMicrosoft Windows, the Dock in macOS, and the Launcher in Linux. These features provide users with a quick and easy way to access applications and system settings.

A user interface is important because it helps us as users to easily interact with the operating system without the need to have any technical knowledge. We can easily perform tasks. This also makes for a more user-friendly experience that is more intuitive and visually pleasant. As users, this helps us to be more productive and reduce the likelihood of making errors.

windows vs chromeos
The graphical user interface of Microsoft Windows helps users easily interact with the operating system.


Memory Management Functions

Operating systems(OS) also have memory management functions in addition to user interface functions.Memory managementfunctions help the OS to handle the virtual memory and RAM on the computer.

They work by allocating and de-allocating memory to the different processes and programs running on the machine or device. This lets the system have the ability to run several programs at the same time without them interfering with each other.

  • Some of the different types of memory management functions are as follows:
    Allocating memory; It assigns memory to a program or process when you launch it.
  • De-allocating memory: It frees up memory that is no longer in use by a process or program.
  • Swapping memory: It moves data from the virtual memory to the RAM and vice versa to free up space in the RAM.
  • Memory protection: It makes sure a process does not access the memory of another process or program.

OnWindows, we will find the Windows Task Manager managing the memory. Unix has the top command that enables users to manage and monitor memory usage on the machine.

Memory management functions are vital for keeping the operating system stable and efficient in terms of performance. Poor memory management will lead to a system crash, slow system, and overall instability.

Process Management Functions

When you open an application on your computer, the operating system is responsible for managing that application and ensuring it runs smoothly. This is where process management functions come in. When we use any application on the computer, the operating system the in charge of making sure it runs smoothly. This is process management.

These are the tasks that an OS executes in order to monitor and manage the processes running on the computer. The process that is running can be anything from a video game to an office productivity program like Microsoft Office.

Types Of Process Management Functions

There are several different types of process management functions an OS can execute. Some of them are:

Scheduling processes: This is when the system manages which processes get to access computer resources and the duration they will have for that. It is vital to ensure each process gets enough access to system resources so that everything runs smoothly.

Memory management: This is very similar to the memory management we see for the whole operating system. It is however different because this is the management of memory for single processes.

Input/output management: This function regulates how separate processes handle input and output operations.


When you switch on your computer, it picks which application to execute first. This is an example of process scheduling. The choice is influenced by a number of criteria, such as which application has the highest priority or which was opened most recently.

Memory management is another example where the operating system makes sure that each process can access the memory it requires. This is essential because a process can crash or cause others to crash if it runs out of memory.

Importance Of Process Management Functions

Process management functions ensure that the system runs optimally and that the processes running on it do not interfere with one another. The operating system reduces the likelihood of errors or crashes and optimizes resource utilization by effectively managing processes. This results in a better user experience and increased productivity.

File Management Functions

File management functions help in the storage, retrieval, and organization of data on the computer. These are the features and sets of tools that an OS uses to manage files. This covers deleting, creating, stealing, moving, copying, and arranging files in folders or directories.

Types of File Management Functions

Operating systems provide a variety of file management functions such as:

  • Naming and file creation: Operating systems allow users to create new files and name them as they see fit.
  • Moving and copying files: Users can copy files or move them around within the file system.
  • Deleting files: Users can remove or delete files that they have no use for.
  • Retrieving and searching for files: Operating systems have search capabilities that can help to find files based on their content, names, or other criteria.
  • Compressing and decompressing files: Many operating systems include tools for decompressing and compressing data in order to save space and improve file transfers.
  • Encryption and decryption of tiles: Operating systems include encryption tools to safeguard files with passwords or encryption keys to protect sensitive data.
  • Synchronizing and sharing files: Operating systems include features for sharing files via a network and syncing files across several devices.


Consider some real-world examples of how file management functions work. Assume you want to create a new document in Microsoft Excel. You can create a new file and name it by selecting New from the File menu. Then, select Save to store the file in your preferred location on your computer.

Another example istransferring or copying a filefrom one area to another. To perform the task, simply right-click on the file, select Copy, navigate to the destination folder, right-click again, and select Paste.

excel spreadsheet on laptop computer pc
Creating and naming a new file in Microsoft Excel is an example of a file management function.


Importance of File Management Functions

File management operations are critical to an operating system s correct operation. Without these features, managing and organizing files would be a time-consuming and difficult effort. Users can very easily modify, create, remove, and organize files using these functions. This makes it easier to manage data and information efficiently. The capacity to share and synchronize files also improves collaboration and teamwork.

Device Management Functions

Device management functions in operating systems manage the hardware connected to the device. They can be printers, keyboards, mice, scanners, and other external devices.

Types Of Device Management Functions

  • Device drivers: These are applications that allow the operating system to connect with different types of hardware. They convert the operating system s instructions into a language that the hardware can understand.
  • Plug and play: This is a feature that enables the operating system to automatically recognize and set up newly connected hardware devices.


  • The automatic setup and recognition of a new USB device.
  • Configuration of printer settings.
  • The automatic detection and installation of new device drivers.

Device management features in operating systems are important because they ensure that hardware components are correctly set up and working properly. This can aid in the prevention of data loss, system crashes, and other problems that result from hardware failures. Device management can also be used to automate tasks saving us effort and time.

Security Management Functions

Operating systems are tasked with safeguarding the computer system and its data against illegal access or harm. Security management functions are critical in assuring the system s security. They are intended to protect against attacks by malware and secure network connections by preventing unwanted access to a computer system or data. These functions are carried out through a variety of technologies, including access control, user authentication, encryption, and antivirus software.

Types of Security Management Functions

Here is a list of some of the security management functions that an operating system is tasked with:

  • Access Control and Authentication: This function makes sure the system and its resources are only accessible to authorized users. To validate the user s identity, the system employs several methods such as biometrics, passwords, and smart cards.
  • Network Security and Firewall: This function prevents unwanted network access to the system and defends against malicious threats such as viruses, trojans, and worms.
  • Encryption: This function protects data from illegal access by encrypting it. Encryption is the process of transforming data into an unreadable form that only authorized users can decrypt and read.


Some examples of security management functions are enabling encryption, setting user permissions, installing antivirus software, and configuring firewalls.

Importance of Security Management Functions

Security management responsibilities are critical for preventing unwanted access to and harm to the computer system and its data. Without these functions, the system would be open to hackers ormalware attacks. As a result, comprehensive security management features in the operating system are critical to ensuring the system s and its users security and safety.

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