Such Happiness In Thought Happens

January 11, 2009

It’s the New Year, time to declutter your ‘puter and get organised!

Filed under: Productivity — Duane @ 7:33 am

It’s the beginning of a new year, and what better way to start it off than to organise your life. Ok … that might be a bit too ambitious, but you can organise your life by starting somewhere. And what better way than organising something that you use every day – your connection to the ‘net, storage of pics, music, vids, documents, etc – the simple computer. So let’s look at ways you can organise the files on your ‘puter so that you can easily find them when you wish/need them. Note you will need a couple of hours or up to a day (shock horror, perhaps more than a day?) depending upon the amount of files you have. 

 Location, Location, Location
You first need to decide where you will keep the organised files once the clean up is complete. Then the structure. A simple structure to start with is what type of files you keep – photos, music, videos, work, university, etc. But where to store them?
If you have multiple drives, i.e. more than just C: drive, then I would recommend keeping them on D: (or whatever drive you have available). If you don’t have other drives, while My Documents is the logical choice, it might be an idea to have another folder to store your files on your C: drive.
So first decide what type of files to keep and where to store them.  

Creation
Once you have done the mind work, now time to do the work. Create the new folders in the location of your choice. Also if you already know some hierarchy you might use, create those folders as well. If you can’t think of a hierarchy now, that is fine – it might evolve over time.  

Clean up
Now is the time for the hard work. Start with the first folder at the top (perhaps your My Documents folder), look at the files inside the folder and decide whether you still need them or not. What is this file? I don’t recognise the name? Open the file, see what it is about, decide whether to keep it or not. Then rename the file.  

If you don’t know how to rename, there are a couple of methods. Right click on the file and down towards the bottom of the short cut menu you will see Rename. Alternatively you can use the F2 button on your keyboard to rename the file (When renaming files, remember to keep the file extension [if visible] as part of the name).  

Lastly, when you have cleansed the files from that folder, move the remaining files to the new folder structure based upon their type.  

Repeat the process for all folders that are not system required folders, i.e. DO NOT TOUCH THE WINDOWS, DOCUMENTS AND SETTINGS, OR PROGRAM FILES FOLDERS! Stick to folders you have created and folders in My Documents. 

While going through your files, the process might bring back good memories (or bad) as you open and look at files you haven’t seen for awhile. This proves that it is time to clean up and decide if you still want that photo of you and an ex while on holidays. 

Decision time
Are you still happy with the current structure of folders based on file type or would you prefer a different structure? If you are, then leave it as it is and skip to the next section. If you are not satisfied, how would you like the folder structure to be ordered? Below is an image of what I have as folders on my D: drive.


And under My Documents folder, I have the following folders: 

 Personally, I find this structure works best for myself. It might work for you, you might have to tweak it to your liking, or you might go completely different. Find what works best for yourself.

Downloads folder
I would like to draw attention to the folder I have called Downloads. A method to streamline where you put things is to save everything you download from the Internet to one folder. I call mine Downloads. If I am busy, I can download the file and come back to it later, because I know that it will be in my Downloads folder. Also if I think I might have downloaded a suspect file, I need only right click on my Downloads folder and choose Scan and it will search for viruses, etc (this is of course dependant upon what virus scanner you use and its functionality). Then once I have looked at the file, I can decide whether to keep it or not. If I do keep it, where will I put it? If you have a download manager program, you can choose the default location when downloading files. 

Nearly finished …
Once you have moved or deleted all of your files, it is time to do a bit of system maintenance, especially if you have moved/deleted many files. You need to clean up, then defrag.

You can go the option of default Microsoft programs of Disk Cleanup, and Disk Defragmenter (both to be found under the System Tools folder of Accessories), or you can go for better, free alternatives. There are a number available on the market, but I prefer to use CCleaner from http://www.ccleaner.com/ instead of Disk Cleanup. The nice thing about CCleaner is that you can choose which Internet cookies not to be deleted, thus saving you time of re-entering your username and password on your favourite websites. Instead of Disk Defragmenter I use JkDefragGUI, available from http://www.kessels.com/JkDefrag/. (Both of these programs I picked up from http://www.freewaregenius.com/).

You should also think of a Backup solution in case of emergency. Back up software, online storage synchronisation, external hard drive, and probably other options I am not yet aware of are all possible. 

There you have it – a more organised and decluttered computer, which you can now clutter up over the upcoming year. Only kidding. But that is hopefully one thing off your list of things to do for the New Year.

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