Random Access

Random access refers to the ability to access data at random. The opposite of random access is sequential access. To go from point A to point Z in a sequential-access system, you must pass through all intervening points. In a random-access system, you can jump directly to point Z. Disks are random access media, whereas tapes are sequential access media.

random and sequential access

Random and Sequential Describe Data Files

The terms random access and sequential access are often used to describe data files. A random-access data file enables you to read or writeinformation anywhere in the file. In a sequential-access file, you can only read and write information sequentially, starting from the beginning of the file.

Both types of files have advantages and disadvantages. If you are always accessing information in the same order, a sequential-access file is faster. If you tend to access information randomly, random access is better.

Random access is sometimes called direct access.

Webopedia Staff
Webopedia Staff
Since 1995, more than 100 tech experts and researchers have kept Webopedia’s definitions, articles, and study guides up to date. For more information on current editorial staff, please visit our About page.

Top Articles

List of Windows Operating System Versions & History [In Order]

The Windows operating system (Windows OS) refers to a family of operating systems developed by Microsoft Corporation. We look at the history of Windows...

How to Create a Website Shortcut on Your Desktop

Website Shortcut on Your Desktop reviewed by Web Webster   This Webopedia guide will show you how to create a website shortcut on your desktop using...

What are the Five Generations of Computers? (1st to 5th)

Reviewed by Web Webster Each generation of computer has brought significant advances in speed and power to computing tasks. Learn about each of the...

Hotmail [Outlook] Email Accounts

Launched in 1996, Hotmail was one of the first public webmail services that could be accessed from any web browser. At its peak in...

SHA-256

SHA-256 is an algorithm used for hash functions and is a vital component...

Document Management System

A document management system is an automated software solution businesses and organizations use...

Conti Ransomware

Conti ransomware first emerged in 2020. It uses a ransomware as a service...