BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2002

  

 

BOOT CAMP 209 (22/12/01)

 

MANAGING YOUR FILES

 

It is not too late to make one last New Year's resolution and tidy up the filing system on your PC. If you have ever had to spend more than 10 seconds looking for a document, spreadsheet, picture or music track, then your PC needs organising.

 

Searching for files on a PC with a busy multi-gigabyte hard disk drive makes needle-hunting in haystacks look easy. It is frustrating, a big time-waster and easily avoidable. Apart from saving time, putting your filing system in order can also make your PC run more smoothly. It might even make it more reliable and it will definitely make the task of transferring data to a new PC easier.

 

Unfortunately, there is no universal template. Within the first few hours of use, your PC and its filing system becomes as unique as you. But there are a few simple techniques that you can adapt to your machine and way of working.

 

The basic idea is to gather together the various classes of file on your PC into easily accessible folders and get yourself into the habit of using your programs.

We'll begin with word processor documents, as they're usually the most numerous. Windows tries to be helpful by creating a folder for text files called My Documents, but it quickly becomes cluttered with all sorts of detritus from other programs using it as a dumping ground. I recommend creating a folder specifically for word processor files.

 

To do that open Windows Explorer (Start > Programs > Windows Explorer), highlight the C: drive icon (or whatever drive or partition you want to keep them in), click the File menu then New and Folder.

A new folder icon will appear at the bottom of the directory tree, with the name already highlighted. Key in the new name - I use `Master Documents' - and press Return.

 

Incidentally, if your hard drive has been partitioned it is wise to keep data files out of Drive C: as this usually gets filled up very quickly with applications that select the drive as the default location during installation.

To stop that happening, the next time you load up some software opt for manual installation and change the location for the program to one of the other partitions.

 

The next task is to create a number of sub-folders within Master Documents. The procedure is the same as before, but this time highlight the Master Documents folder before you click New on the File menu.

The newly created sub-folders should be named according to your requirements, such as Work, Home or Letters - but the trick is to think ahead and append each folder name with a date.

 

A simple two-digit year code such as 01 or 02 is sufficient for most users, but if you generate a large number of documents you can easily add more digits to represent a month or week number.

 

Once all your folders and sub-folders are in place, you can get on with the task of populating them with the documents that are spread around your PC. Use Windows Explorer to drag and drop files, or blocks of files (hold down the Ctrl key to select multiple files) into their new homes.

 

The last job is to tell your word processor where to store documents in future.

In most versions of Microsoft Word, go to Options on the Tools menu and select the File Locations tab. Documents should be at the top of the list. Highlight the entry (default My Documents), click the Modify button and specify your newly created Master Documents folder. Similar options can be found in most Microsoft Office applications and other popular word processors.

 

You can repeat the procedure for most other groups of files and applications.

Be creative with folder names. For example, pictures shot on your digital camera can be organised by an event, date or location, such as Vegas98 or Britney's Wedding. Music fans could also group tracks according to artist, instrument or genre. The point is, the more sub-folders you create within a main folder, the easier it will be for you to find a particular file.

 

If you download a lot of software from the internet, you should most definitely create a main folder to keep it in. At the very least, I recommend your using a sub-folder that is specifically for driver updates and patches for your PC and peripherals because these tend to have highly forgettable names and can be a pig to find if you ever need to use them again.

 

It is a good idea to keep downloads for any utilities that you use in their own sub-folder, especially if they are in the form of vaguely named Zip files. They are they kind of files you will probably want to transfer across to a new PC.

And while you are at it, you might also want to think about giving some of them a name that is more easily identifiable. To do that, right click on the file in Windows Explorer and select Rename. If renaming a file is likely to cause a problem, then Windows will usually give you a warning.

 

 

JARGON FILTER

 

PARTITION

The division of a large disk drive into one or more virtual drives

 

PATCH

A program or file that is intended to fix or work around a problem in a software application

 

ZIP

A type of compressed file. It is often used to send large amounts of data or programs over the internet and requires a special program - Pkunzip or WinZip for example - to expand or decompress the file before it can be used

 

TOP TIP

You may want to make certain files on your computer inaccessible, especially if you share your PC with others. There are plenty of password protection and encryption programs available for download, but sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. On easy way to protect a sensitive file is to rename it and bury it deep inside Windows, or another unrelated application. Simply open Windows Explorer, right-click on the file and give it a new name with a fictitious three-letter extension - you initials perhaps - then drag and drop it into a folder. Make sure you remember where you put it and check that you're not using a genuine file type bu using th extension search at: http://extsearch.com/

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