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Windows: Tips for Managing Files

People often place little value on “virtual space,” randomly saving files to wherever it is convenient and later kicking themselves and their computer because they cannot find the file when they need it. By using these tips as a starting point, you can reduce the stress of finding files and have a much more organized file system on your computer. This will also make it much easier to back up your data and to copy it out if the system needs to be reloaded.

1. Use “My Documents.”

2. Develop a naming scheme for the kinds of files you create most often, and then stick to it.

3. Separate ongoing and completed work. To keep the My Documents folder from becoming too unwieldy, use it only for files you are working on. This reduces the number of files you need to search through and the amount of data you need to back up. Every month or so, move the files you are no longer working on to a different folder or location — preferably a different partition or drive. You can archive them on a folder on your desktop (You could even label it Archives.) or move them to a backup tape or recordable CD. Your My Documents folder, which you should back up frequently, remains relatively small.

4. Keep names short. Even though Windows allows you to use long file names, it does not necessarily mean you should. Long names produce cluttered displays. Brevity promotes clarity. Keep file names short by using common abbreviations such as “MTG” for meeting or “ACTG” for accounting. This makes the file names more descriptive.

5. Store like with like. Restricting folders to a single document type (or predominantly one type) allows you to take advantage of folder templates in Windows Explorer. This makes it easier for you to find files. For example, with all your graphics in a single folder, it is easy to use the Filmstrip view and slide show feature in Windows Explorer to find the right picture for your newsletter.

6. Avoid big folder structures. If you need to put so many subfolders in a folder that you cannot see all of them at a glance, consider creating an alphabetic menu.

7. Do not save unnecessary files. Be selective about the files you keep. You probably do not need to keep them all. With e-mail, for example, you rarely need to keep everything you receive.

8. Organize files by dates where applicable. Use a date in the document name such as jqp07252006, which would mean July 25, 2006. This puts all the JQP materials together and sorted by date.

9. Use common names. To make it easier to search for documents, name your files and folders with easily found names such as model numbers, project names, or the project lead in the title.

Rob Rogers
Rob Rogers
Once a prolific author here on Tech-Recipes, Rob has moved on to greener pastures.


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