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Where To Put Those Files? Data Organization

A Lesson In Backup: Taking Care Of Your Data
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As a result of ever-increasing drive capacities and the ever-larger numbers of files that pile up in their wake, users can scatter them haphazardly around multiple drives far too easily. That’s what makes file-system structure and organization so important. Without a system to follow, you’ll inevitably lose track of what goes where (or more importantly, where to look for what you seek). That’s why organization is the key to a manageable desktop (and much of the rest of life as well).

Add Structure to the Home Directory

By contrast with earlier versions of Windows, Microsoft offers Windows Vista users a basic file-system structure inside each user’s home directory (C:\Users\<Username>, which is designed to facilitate access to files by type. Thus, audio files appear in the Music folder, home videos in the Videos folder, and digital images and snapshots in the Pictures folder.

More Organization from Sub-Folders

As a start, the default folders aren’t bad, but for users with thousands of images or music files, a single folder with no additional structure doesn’t provide much organization. It is thus a good idea to create additional subfolders, so as to impose more structure on a collection of hundreds or thousands of file items. Thus, for example, you might want to organize images inside the Pictures folder, into subfolders called “Vacations” or “Birthdays” where you can create individual sub-subfolders to store images from particular activities or events, like these birthday photos, for example:

C:\Users\<Username>\Pictures\Birthdays\Bob.Sr\2007

The same approach also works well for large music collections, where you might create category folders for various types of music, and then subfolders within the categories for particular artists. Movies, TV recordings, and videos are also amenable to this kind of structure, too: C:\Users\<Username>\Videos\Action\Rambo First Blood Part II).

Other Storage Locations

If circumstances compel you to store various file collections outside the comfortable embrace of the default home directory, perhaps on an external drive, we’d advise taking a similar approach. It might be that your C: drive is already stuffed, due to the installation of numerous programs in its Program Files folder, or that your personal files have consumed its available capacity. Either way, using a similar structure will make files easy to find outside the C:\Users\<Username> hierarchy as well.

Once you’ve got things organized and squared away, and all your files in their proper cubbyholes, it’s time to think about backing things up.

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