File Organization - Directories and Folders

File Organization - Directories and Folders

So you have a hard drive, it is partitioned, drive letters have been assigned and the operating system and programs have been installed – now what? Now it is time to create, or expand, the directory structure to for the storage and organization of data and files in order to easily backup and locate information. 

In the most basic sense a directory or folder on a computer is the equivalent of a drawer in a file cabinet. It is used to store and organize files and other directories, which are called subdirectories, in a logical or in some cases illogical manner depending on your filing preferences. To start you create directories at the “root” at the top level of the drive and then create subdirectories within these directories to further organize files. 

Note: A directory and a folder are the same – just named differently. The naming convention started as directory before Microsoft Windows and switched to folders with the introduction of the graphical interface and both are still used. 

There are several methods for creating a directory or folder on your system. These include: 

Command Prompt Most likely you will never need to create a directory from the command prompt but there are circumstances when this is necessary – typically when troubleshooting Windows startup errors. 

My Computer or Windows Explorer
To create a folder using My Computer or Explorer you need to open My Computer or Explorer then browse to the location for the new folder then: 

For Vista:
Organize | New Folder

For Windows XP:
File | New | New Folder or if in Task View select Make a New Folder from left navigation bar  

Right-click on desktop then select
New | Folder  

In addition, when you are saving a file you can create a folder from the Save dialog box if you find you need a new directory for the file. (This does not work in all instances – depends on software versions).

  • Name your directories and files with short but concise titles. Though you can use up 255 characters (Windows XP and Vista) naming directories and files I strongly advise keeping them shorter as it is easier navigate shorter path names than longer path names.
    • Note: The “path” is the location of the file in the directory hierarchy starting at the root directory and working down all the subdirectories to the file location.
  • The use of subdirectories is great for organization but too many levels can get confusing and harder to use. For example, it will be harder to save and retrieve filed from c:\work\support\new\word\client than it would be from c:\work\clients. Try to avoid using any special characters when naming files even if they are allowed. I have come across issues when I have used special characters such as & - though it is allowed by the operating system some of the software that I use did not like the special character.

Now that disk drives, drive letters, directories, files and creating directories have been covered the next step is start organizing your files. Stayed tuned!

You Should Also Read:
File Organization - The Basics
File Organization - Drive Letters

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