A data storage and retrieval system based upon a three file concept is disclosed. The computer oriented system comprises at least an index, search, and data file. Access to the file structure is through the index file wherein a plurality of keywords are stored. Each keyword, either individually or in combination, is used to identify one or more data records stored in the data file. A plurality of paths through the search file, called chains, whose links comprise links addresses, provide a connection between the index and data files.Keywords are automatically generated from field values contained in data records. Updating of these field values initiates the automatic updating of keywords in the index and search files.In addition, to conserve file space, the allocation of space for keywords in the index file is made adjustable.Provision is made for marking items as deleted and for bypassing deleted items during searching.Provision is also made for the addition of a single item as a data record without using the loading procedure used to initially load the data base.