Our computers hold all sorts of digital resources that we utilize both at work and in our personal lives. From family photos to financial records, the data we store on our hard drives can be very important. But, if your computer’s files are cluttered and disorganized, it can be difficult to find the file you need when you actually need it. Here are some hints for tidying up the resources you keep on your computer.
Back up, Back up, Back up
Sure you want to organize your computer, but you’ve got to start with a back-up plan - in case the worst actually happens (which is highly possible in the realm of technology). “Back up your data” is as critical in this era as “Wear Sunscreen.” September is National Preparedness Month, after all!
Personally I use Backblaze as my safety net. It is an online back up program that easily and automatically makes a back up of all my documents. (Online back up is not to be confused with an online cloud storage program - see more here.
An external hard drive is also an excellent way to store large amounts of content without bogging down your computer in the process. External hard drives are especially useful for storing collections of things like photos, music or even videos. This will free up a significant amount of room on your personal computer, as well as ensure your content is safe.
Trash Old, Unnecessary Files
After you’ve used your computer for some time, it is almost impossible to avoid accumulating files that you don’t need any more (or that never were useful in the first place). Not only can these files take up valuable space on your hard drive, they can also make it hard to find the file you’re looking for. If you haven’t accessed a file or program in a long time, consider whether or not it is still needed. And if not, say goodbye.
Organize Your Web Bookmarks
Caveat: I have no web bookmarks, because I’m an avid Evernote user. However, best practice remains: purge those old bookmarks periodically. An overflowing bookmarks bar can cost quite a bit of time when you’re looking for content you actually need frequently. Remember that most web browsers allow you to sort your bookmarks just like you would other files on your computer, and allow you to create folders. Use these to your advantage in order to create a bookmark system that is quick and easy to navigate.
Clean Up Your Filing System
Your computer uses a system of folders and subfolders in order to keep your files organized. Much like a filing cabinet, these folders need to be carefully organized and maintained in order to be used efficiently. Try to consolidate your resources into a few top-level folders with other similar sub-folders within. For example, you may have a folder called “work" which contains other folders “expenses" and so on.
Some helpful tools you may want to consider utilizing to make organizing your resources on your computer an easy and stress-free task are Evernote.com, OneNote.com (Microsoft’s answer to Evernote) or Instapaper.com. These useful cloud-based applications allow you to create and store documents online and access them from any device. This way, there are fewer resources that are actually on your computer and in need of organization.
There is no perfect system or technique for organizing the many resources on your computer. What makes sense to one user may seem taboo to another. The trick is to find the system that works best for you. And, once you’ve found something that works, the critical aspect is keeping up with it, just like everything else.