Stop Wasting Time Searching for Old Documents
In the days when important documents were kept in file cabinets, organization was essential to ensuring that whatever one needed was always at the ready. The digital world may have made such organization seem less imperative, but it's still important. How can computer users keep their files nice and tidy?
Have you ever panicked because you couldn't find a certain key file you were looking for on your computer and you just needed to have it right away? Sure, most PCs let you search their contents by name, but that can take a long time and may not produce satisfying results, especially if you're not using the right search settings or have a penchant for forgetting what you've named your documents. A little work on organizing your desktop or laptop now can go a long way later. Here are some practical tips you might want to consider.
It's All About Folders
As in the time of file cabinets, folders are the number one easiest way to keep your computer documents organized. First, it's helpful to make sure all your media is separated by type. Often operating systems use that as a default setting, so images will naturally go in a 'pictures' folder, audio in a 'music' folder, etc.
Once those folders are set up, you'll probably find it helpful to further divide them based on specific sub-categories. To use an obvious example, files in your 'Music' folder can be broken down by 'Artist,' and then again by 'Album.' Again, that might be something your computer does automatically. When it comes to written documents like Word files, though, you might have to work a little harder. One possible solution is to divide everything you write into subfolders based on what it's written for. For instance, if you're enrolled in school, name a folder after each class you take; then a few clicks can easily show you everything you've written for that class. That kind of tactic can apply to all media; you might divide pictures into sub-folders based on the dates they were taken, for example.
It's all too easy to be tempted to save everything you work on to the desktop, where it's readily at your disposal. Do this sparingly, if at all. Nothing ends up making a computer look more cluttered than having a sea of icons greet you every time you turn it on. The desktop seems to work best as a temporary storage space - you could save a doc there while you're currently working on it, but be sure to relocate it once you don't need immediate access anymore. The one exception to that may be documents that you truly have to access all the time… if you're clicking on something each day, perhaps it is worth your while to keep it so handy.
Many operating systems come pre-loaded with various diagnostic tools meant to improve your computer's performance. These are your friends. Programs like Disk Defragmenter and Disk Cleanup can shuffle around and remove unnecessary files, freeing up space for the good stuff. Experts recommend you run such programs at least monthly, if not weekly.
Time to Let Go
Of course, you can manually clean out older files yourself, and that's probably something you should get in the habit of doing. Papers from over a year ago, games you just don't care for, music you've grown out of - these are all potential space-stealers on your hard drive. You don't have to let go of anything permanently, of course; there are plenty of external storage options (additional hard drives, CDs, USB jump drives) to hold on to these files, but you probably don't need them hanging around your main PC gumming up the works.
If you're worried about losing your files, here are some tips that might help you avoid computer disaster.