Understanding the Role of Batch Files

Batch files are important to assist programmers when doing repetitive tasks. Here I examine some of the ways batch files are used in your computer.

When a computer needs to run a preset list of commands a batch file is used. A batch file is actually a very simple form of programming. It uses commands to tell the computer what to do and when to do it. It can be designed to start and stop executing until it receives some feedback from an operator. These files are commonly used in DOS and Windows operating systems. For those familiar with larger computer systems, a batch file is related to the Job Control Language.

Batch files do work that needs to be done either on a regular basis or when the same job needs to be done over and over for some reason. Most batch files help control your computer's boot commands. The operating system opens up a batch file and begins to execute the commands until it has exhausted the file. It may then move on to other batch files until everything has been accomplished to have your computer up, running, and ready for you to use it.

Most batch files are not extremely lengthy. In fact, many have less than 10 commands. Various programs contained in software that you install on your computer may use a batch file or several batch files to execute the commands to install or run the programs. This same thing is true for those updates to various anti-virus and spyware programs. Batch files are extremely common even if you do not see them.

On most versions of Windows you can identify a batch file by noticing that it has the suffix ".bat." Batch files are executable although they do not have the ".exe" suffix. It is a good plan not to delete any .bat files from your computer if you are not sure about what they do. Of course, if some of your monitoring software warns you that it is a dangerous file place on your computer maliciously, you may need to wipe it out.

Programmers like batch files because they can make their work easier or at least shorter. Any time a programmer needs for a computer to do the same set of commands for a dozen or a hundred times, the programmer will use a batch file. A batch file can be set to run through its commands for a specific number of passes by using an internal counter. It can also use that same counter to modify user or file names that are to be built or accessed during each pass. This allows a programmer to pull the same data from many files with a short set of commands or to create many similar files.

Unless you are on course to become a computer geek, you may never write or personally call up a batch file. You will use many of them many times. Batch files have been around as long as computers. They have gone by different names, but they all do the task.


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