Sequential Access

Sequential access is the reading or writing of data records in sequential order, that is, one record after the other. To read record 10, for example, you would first need to read records 1 through 9. This differs from random access, in which you can read and write records in any order.

sequential access

Sequential Access in Programming

Some programming languages and operating systems distinguish between sequential-access data files and random-access data files, allowing you to choose between the two types. Sequential-access files are faster if you always access records in the same order. Random-access files are faster if you need to read or write records in a random order.

Other Sequential Classifications

Devices can also be classified as sequential access or random access. For example, a tape drive is a sequential-access device because to get to point q on the tape, the drive needs to pass through points a through p. A disk drive, on the other hand, is a random-access device because the drive can access any point on the disk without passing through all intervening points.

Recommended Reading: Webopedia’s random access definition.

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.

Related Articles

DocuSign

What is DocuSign? DocuSign is an agreement management application that enables businesses to create, send, and automate a wide variety of forms and contracts and...

Compliance

What is compliance? Compliance or regulatory compliance is a term used across industries to describe rules and policies that prohibit or regulate specific products, services,...

User Experience

User experience describes a user's interaction with products, systems, and services and includes usability, design, navigation, and impression.

Management Information Systems (MIS)

What is a Management Information System? A Management Information System (MIS) is an information system that provides managers with the tools to effectively organize, evaluate,...

Venture Capital

Venture capital (VC) offers startups and developing businesses growth opportunities with funding from...

Third-Party Apps

A third-party application is an application provided by a vendor other than the...

Ernst & Young (EY)

Ernst & Young Global Limited, commonly known as EY, is a multinational professional...