It isn’t the most glamorous activity, but it’s important to take the time to organize computer files. They have a way of accumulating without us even realizing it, until one day we turn on our computers to find a desktop full of icons and slower speeds than we would like. We’re all guilty of dumping all the photos and music from our phones into a single folder and letting it sit there gathering digital dust, after all.
Unorganized computer files can make it difficult to find things when you need them, and can sometimes even mean you’re storing files you don’t need anymore. Developing a system for organizing yours makes it much easier to locate what you are looking for and it gives any new files you add a place to go in the future.
Follow these tips to help you set your computer up for organizational success.
1. Identify Your File Types
What is the main function your computer serves? Do you use it for work? Playing music? Looking at photos? The first step to getting your computer files organized is identifying which types you have. A simple way to accomplish this is to identify several broad categories of files such as:
- Work documents
- Personal documents
You can create a folder for each of the broadest file categories. This alone is far better than dumping everything into the “My Documents” folder and calling it a day. You can then sort your broad categories further into subcategories for easier perusing.
2. Create Subfolders
Now that you have organized your computer files into a few major categories — i.e. personal things in one folder and work projects in another — you can identify subcategories to make the process even easier. Here’s an example:
Let’s say you have created a “work” folder into which you have moved all of your work-related documents. This can be further broken down with subfolders for each client or timeframe, with documents then placed in subfolders for select tasks. This allows you to quickly access the file you are looking for should a client or teammate have a question about a specific project.
Here is an example of some broad categories and subcategories:
- Time frame (e.g. March 2020)
- Client Documents
- Sub-subfolder for each client
- Personal documents
- Financial documents
- Legal documents
- Family vacation 2019
- Baby photos
- Photos by year or date range
- Personal documents
There are as many ways to categorize files as there are people to categorize them, so it’s important to choose a method that is logical for you and keeps things easy to find. It would be very frustrating to have to search through all your work documents to find one related to a particular client, for example, or to be looking for a particular family vacation photo and have to wade through all the digitized pictures from your childhood to find it.
3. Organize Your Folders
Once you’ve gotten all of your computer files organized into folders, it’s time to organize your folders themselves. Both Mac and Microsoft operating systems give you the ability to arrange folders in a configuration of your choosing, such as alphabetically or by frequency of use. You can organize them on your desktop or put everything into one large folder divided by subfolders. The sky’s the limit, just remember to choose a method that makes sense to you.
What to do with Files You Don’t Need
There will inevitably be items you either no longer need or want as you organize your digital files. The question then is what to do with them. Here are a few tips:
- Be sure you have kept financial and legal documents for the requisite amount of time. Some documents should be stored indefinitely while others can be deleted after a year.
- The same is also true for work documents: Be sure you won’t need a client’s file again before you delete it.
- This could be an opportunity for a subfolder for unused or retired documents.
For any files that you no longer need and have no reason to keep, you may think simply deleting them is enough. It is important to remember that deleting a digital file does not remove it permanently — and neither does emptying your computer’s recycle bin. You may even use a free file shredder to delete sensitive documents, but none of these are reliable ways to permanently destroy documents you would not want to be stolen or recovered. A digital file shredder like Shred Cube can help you to dispose of sensitive documents completely.
The Importance of Honing Your System
When it comes to organizing your computer files, it is crucial to figure out a system that works for you — especially if you are not naturally organized. Keeping yours tidy and disposing of any you no longer need will mean the days of searching endlessly for — or giving up on finding — the files you need can be a thing of the past. You will have everything you need right where you need it.
For the files you don’t need, use a permanent file shredder to ensure you are disposing of them safely and protecting the sensitive information of you, your loved ones, clients, and business associates. If you have questions about how to make sure your data is gone for good, contact Shred Cube to speak with an expert today.