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
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
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.
The division of a large disk drive into one or more virtual
A program or file that is intended to fix or work around a
problem in a software application
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
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/