Difference between Path and File in Java NIO

1. Introduction

In Java NIO (New I/O), Path and File are two different classes that represent system file paths. The Path class was introduced in Java NIO as an improvement over the legacy File class, providing a more flexible and extensive approach to handling file systems.

2. Key Points

1. Path is part of the Java NIO (New Input/Output) package introduced in Java 7, which provides improved functionality for file manipulation.

2. File is the older class from the original Input/Output API in Java.

3. Path provides better methods for file path manipulation, such as combining two paths or retrieving parts of a path.

4. File methods do not support the symbolic links like Path methods do.

5. Path can be used with other NIO classes such as Files and FileSystems to perform advanced file operations.

3. Differences

Path File
Introduced in Java NIO (Java 7). Part of the original I/O package since Java 1.0.
Supports symbolic links and better exception handling. Limited support for symbolic links and less informative error handling.
Used to operate with more advanced file system features. Used for basic file system operations.

4. Example

import java.nio.file.Path;
import java.nio.file.Paths;
import java.io.File;

public class PathVsFile {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        // Using Path
        Path path = Paths.get("./test.txt");
        System.out.println("Path: " + path.toString());

        // Using File
        File file = new File("./test.txt");
        System.out.println("File: " + file.getAbsolutePath());


Path: .\test.txt
File: C:\Your\Current\Directory\test.txt


1. path.toString() returns the string representation of the Path object.

2. file.getAbsolutePath() converts the File object's path to the absolute path string.

5. When to use?

- Use Path when you need to perform advanced file operations, especially those provided by Java NIO, such as file attribute reading and writing, symbolic link handling, or when interacting with a file store in a way that the File class does not support.

- Use File for legacy code and for simple file operations that do not require the advanced capabilities of Path.