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File Organization - The Basics

One of my resolutions for the New Year, and one that I suggested to my friends, family and readers, is to organize the files and programs on your computer to make finding and backing up files easier and less time consuming.

After making the suggestion I realized that not everyone may be familiar with the best practices and procedures of file maintenance or even how the directory structure works on a personal computer so I decided to create a tutorial.

This article provides a basic overview of the base directory structure for a computer running Windows. Once familiar the basic structure then it will be easier to understand and create you own structure for storing data.

The Basics
File storage on a computer can be compared to a file cabinet:

Hard Drive = File Cabinet
Directories (or Folders) = Folders
Files = Files (Paper)
File Name = Labels

At the base, or root level, you can store files on a hard drive but there will be no organization and can easily grow out of control. In fact, if you look at the root level (typically C:) you can see that by default the operating system has already created a set of system directories for storing and organizing the files and programs that are necessary to run the computer Ė it is strongly advised that you donít modify, rename, move or delete any of these directories as it can render you computer inoperable.

When installing software the installation process will create the directory structure necessary for proper operation of the software. For most Windows based software the installation places the files and directories in a special directory called Programs and Files or Program Files Ė this is also a directory that you do not want to modify. If you want to store these files in a different location some software installations will allow you to select a different location but for simplicity I donít suggest you change this location.

In addition, if you decide to move these files you software will no longer function so if you decide you want the files located in a new location then you need to re-install the software.

Along with created directories for storing system and program files the operating system also creates a directory structure for the user to store files and content. Typically this directory is called My Documents and many programs default to this directory. When creating a directory structure you can either based the structure off of this directory or start your own directory structure.

Stayed tuned for creating directories and filing you documents and data!

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