Definition of path in The Network Encyclopedia.

What is Path (in computer networking)?

The route that a user or application follows to locate a file in a file system, an object in a directory, a server on a network, or some other kind of resource in a hierarchical system. A path to an object can be one of the following:

  • An absolute path, which starts from the root of the file system or directory
  • A relative path, which starts from the user’s current directory or location

Path example

On a system running Microsoft Windows, the absolute path to a file is expressed using backslashes, as follows:


If the current directory is C:\Windows\Profiles, the relative path to the same file is as follows:


To access files in shared folders on a Windows network, you can use the Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path:


On UNIX platforms, forward slashes are used instead of backslashes, as in this example:


To request a Web page on the Internet, you specify the page’s Uniform Resource Locator (URL), which is essentially the path to the page in the hierarchical Domain Name System (DNS):