Hints on Organizing and Backing up Computer Files
First let me explain the difference between a disaster and an inconvenience. The scenario:- Your computer crashes and trashes all your photos, emails and other work. It’s not IF your hardware will fail but when.
If you have regularly backed up your work and photos to a CD ROM or some other form of backup strategy, then you are about to be inconvenienced.
If you have no backups, that is a disaster. One that often cannot be resolved or if it can will cost thousands of dollars for specialized data recovery.
This problem, incidently, is YOUR problem. It is not MY problem and never will be. If you ask me for assistance, please bear in mind I am usually very busy and don’t have a great deal of sympathy for your predicament. The first 3 minutes is free, then any more effort on my part will be expensive and results are not assured.
If you are easily offended or very delicate, skip this next couple of lines written by someone with many tears of experience. “Only an idiots would purchace and attempt to operate a computer or any other device without taking some effort to understand what they are doing. If you do this, you are an idiot. If you buy a computer and let other inexperienced persons use or attempt to fix it, you are also an idiot. Imagine letting an inexperienced driver onto the roads or an untrained doctor do brain surgery on your head. The consequences may not be so grave but there are consequences.”
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A BACKUP SYSTEM IN PLACE.
Backup systems cost as little as $200 for a USB drive including a process to automate the backups. This is a serious bargain and you really have no excuse not to have a decent backup system setup in place and working.
If you decide to take the smart option, you would pay me or someone like me a reasonable fee to have your backups setup for you. When I setup a backup system, all you need to do each day, week or whatever is click on an icon and the backup script ensures all the important files are refreshed to your backup device.
Backups and any files you keep on your computer or removable media are less usefull if you don’t adopt a decent filing system. This includes making sure your files are saved always in the expected place on your computer drive. You might think it is clever to make up your own names for main folders, but I am here to assure you that when it all goes pear shaped, nobody will be in good humor attempting to make sense of someone’s poorly thought system of saving files wherever they feel like.
The “Documents” Folder
Mr Microsoft devised the “My Documents” folder for a very good reason. It should be the main container for all your own work files. If you save them anywhere else they may be missed in a restoration operation. You might find it ver amusing and irreverent to have your folders named “Shit” or “Crap”,and then save important files there. Computers don’t care what you call your folders, but I (or other service people) will assume that “Rubbish”, “Temp”, “Crap”, etc. is not something that needs to be kept. If it is in an unusual location, we may not even be aware that the folder exists.
Be smart, and use the filing system to your advantage. Use meaningful folder names that make it easier to find your files. Above all make sure you can say to a computer person, “All my files are in the Documents folder”, and know this is true. We don’t have time to troll through the entire hard drive looking for anything that might be useful. Remember what might appear unimportant to us may be vital to you.
Nifty Free Programs May Cost Heaps
I personally don’t have heaps of time to learn every program that has ever been released. If you decide to use odd programs, you had better be certain of what you are doing. Make sure you have proper backups if you ever need to restore the program. If you get a program from a friend, regardless of whether it is stolen or legal, you must have a copy if you ever want to reinstall it. I don’t condone software piracy and strongly suggest you only use legal software.
When you start out, it is a good idea to consider how you will file you documents. Different folks have different methods but experience has led me to conclude that this is the best way.
My Documents (This is the filing cabinet if you like)
2008 (This is like a drawer)
2009 (use one for each year and it will make life easier)
Business (this is like a folder in your drawer)
There are special folder made by the system such as
Use these to store the relevant files. In the case of photos, I have found the only way that works long term is as follows. Save all in the My Pictures Folder. Then use this format. The folder name must start with the year.
Then under each year adopt the following strategy using the date the photos were downloaded or dated by your camera. Folder must start with 2009 etc, or 09. The point of this is to ensure they are sorted when you open your file manager.
2009-01-13 Pictures at the beach
2009-01-13 Barbeque with friends
2009-02-13 Visit to Grans
Save your photos in the appropriate folder and then make a backup to a CD ROM.
Now you can edit and do whatever you wish with your photos. If you want to find a photo from the past it will be much easier than any other way I have tried.
Do not use Windows wizards or third party software such as Picassa etc. to download you photos if you can possibly avoid doing so. You need to retain the camera file name and date information if possible. Make sure the date is set correctly in your camera. Some cameras lose the date if the battery is removed, and it needs to be reset. Spend a little time learning how your camera works.
If you find this concept difficult, I suggest you ask a friend or sign up for some basic lessons. Tell your friend or your Tudor that this is the way you need to setup your folders. They may have their own way, but the whole point is to start with a system that actually works. This method DOES work and can be easily understood by any support person who might have to assist you in the future or help you to restore a backup.
========================================================Rob Tait has been involved with computers for a long time. The company he workd for was an early adopter of technology and Rob was keen to be involved. Eventually he was assisting the sysops with the day to day hardware maintainence of the mainframe and terminal system. He still recalls the enginering section fighting tooth and nail to get the first real desktop PC’s. The first commonly used PC’s were DEC and later clone XT’s with a whopping 10MHz turbo CPU. It all grew from there with daily ditherings that continued into a private business started in 1995. Its been a wild ride and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. Rob now lives in Emu Park, a small seaside townnship not far from Yeppoon and Rockhampton. Located on the Queensland Keppel Bay it is a truly beautiful postcard scenerey place. Kind of like living in paradise all year. Current Rob nd Pam are attempting to be as green as possible. Solar grid connect and a new diesel powered car are their way to use less fossil fuel. Rob has dabbled with a veggie garden but so far its a pretty hopeless effort. he intends to get ready for another go soon when the cold weather eases off.
Robs hobbies include photography and he has an embarrasingly huge collection of LED torches and lighting. Pam reckons a green energy shop should be next venture. this might happen when Pam packs up her chalk.