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Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Did you miss me?

Yesterday morning the hard disk on my desktop machine gave up the ghost. Kaput. I re-formatted the drive, reloaded Win XP, and am ready to build a new computing environment. Then the error recurred. I'll have to figure this out when I return from ten days on the road. In the meanwhile, I'll live off my laptop. And modem instead of DSL. And no printer.

You'd think the internet would be chock full of advice about how to organize one's files. Google didn't find much of value. One article suggested creating subfolders in My Documents for graphics, for Word docs, for spreadsheets, and so on. Why would anyone want to do that? Might as well just pitch everything into My Documents and sort by file type.

For the last couple of years, I've broken My Documents into categories:
  • Projects -- with one folder per client or topic, including general folders such as articles, presentations, conferences, people.
  • Graphics -- folders for photographs, metaphors, models, logos, etc
  • Reference -- reports and presentations from others
  • Websites -- copies of four or five websites I maintain
  • Swap -- essential files I copy to whatever computer I'm using (personal journal, family photos, passwords, medications, etc.)
  • Work in Progress
  • Mail lists, member lists
When things age, I move them to a separate hard drive which I periodically copy to another drive which is 100% back-up.

Can anyone recommend a superior way to organize files on a hard disk?

What factors should I be considering?

Should I simply start adding meaningful metadata and tossing everything into an undifferentiated pile? I already use X1 to find stuff in really old directories.

Is there any advantage to keeping XP, applications, and data in separate partitions?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is an advantage in keeping your personal data separate from the Windows and application installations if you use an imaging backup utility just as PowerQuest's DriveImage (highly recommended). It facilitates the backing up of your data: you don't have to make a copy of all the windows system files which speeds up the backup time and saves storage space.

Of course you may choose to image your Windows installation so you don't have to spend a day re-installing everything should something go wrong, but it is not as critical to back this up as frequently as your personal data. To some people it's not worth backing up the whole of Windows and the applications. To me it is as the continuation of my work relies on a large number of applications that take about 2 days to install. Rather than go through this I can just restore from the image in an hour or two and my computer is back exactly the way it was (complete with network settings, application settings, installed drivers...)

There is also another advantage should you need to reinstall from scratch (e.g. the latest and greatest virus has got a grip on your system.) When reinstalling you can just reinstall on your Windows partition, formatting the partition, knowing that you're not going to lose anything in the process and also not leaving you with a lot of junk that you need to clear out afterwards.

Personally I don't bother installing Windows and applications in separate partitions as most installations change the system in some way. There is no advantage to backing these up separately.


Kris Sheglova

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

U can keep your XP but...

I think in two alternatives:

U could have a file server(maybe based on linux) where U can put all files. It is easy to make backup even in ftp servers.

Or use a web-based folder like Yahoo!(free) or other comercial alternatives.

If u need some help, post here =)

Best regards,
Paulo Rodrigo Teixeira

8:16 AM  

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