Day 24: Digital Data
By now you should be used to the idea of digital scanning and document archiving. Like most people, you probably also have a number of files and archives already on your computer, such as digital photos, videos, and the like. Depending on your computer use and the amount of data you’ve stored, you may prefer to address digital clutter in one of several different ways.
For simplicity’s sake, we will start with basic digital organization. There are many cloud-based programs that can help store your files, depending on how tech-savvy you are and how much storage space you need. If you find yourself needing more storage than your basic home computer can offer, then it is time to start researching storage options; consider an external hard drive.
The average home computer user may simply need a solution to sort files in a way they can be quickly found when needed. It can be overwhelming, especially if you have simply “saved” items willy-nilly all over your desktop, in your My Documents folder, on a thumb drive, and/or in your email attachments. If you find yourself afraid to empty your “recycle bin” on your computer because you’ve used it as an archive system, you know you have a problem.
Think of your hard drive as a basic filing cabinet. Each user should have their own profile, or at minimum, their own folder. If you are concerned about how your children access your files and/or if privacy is a major concern, parents may want to install a safe browser, share a family login, and monitor and limit kids’ computer time.
Objective: A digital data filing system that works for a family’s basic needs on a shared home computer.
Assess the current situation: How many people use your computer? Do you have a file folder for each user? How can those files be broken down in a way that is most useful to you? How can you sort and access digital data in a quick, non-overwhelming way?
1. Make a plan. Write a list of all of the digital items you store on your computer. For example:
- Bills to pay
- Paid bills/invoices (consider sorting by vendor)
- Monthly statements (consider sorting by vendor)
- Photographs (sort by month)
- Scanned photos/homework/artwork
- Scanned receipts
- Writing, journals, etc.
- Home budget
2. Create folders. Each user of a particular computer should have their own folder on the hard drive. Furthermore, you should create folders for each of the categories listed above, as well as any sub categories. If you like to keep your folders on your desktop, consider installing a desktop background that can help you sort your folders. I love this free desktop background from Heather Moritz at Moritz Fine Designs: http://www.moritzfineblogdesigns.com/2013/08/clean-up-your-computer-desktop-simple-computer-organization/
3. Sort your files. Drag files to the appropriate sorting folders, then drag folders into “My Documents” or whichever file you’ve designated as home base.
4. Protect your files. Consider a password storage program or app like LastPass or RoboForm to protect your passwords and data.
5. Streamline your online data. Clear out any bookmarks in your browser you no longer use. Consider using a program or app like Feedly to manage your news, blogs and RSS feeds.
6. Back up your files. Determine how you will access all your files in the event of an emergency. (If all your kid pictures live on your desktop computer, you need a backup system NOW. How would you feel if you lost all those precious memories?) Save files to an external hard drive or memory stick, or install an automatic digital backup program like Mozy. It is also not a bad idea to back up your files in multiple locations. If you have a safe deposit box, copy your photos once a year onto a memory stick to store in your box.
1. Take The Boring Out of Storing (ContainerStore.com) 2. Digital Device Display (CreativeHomeIdea.com) 3. Color Coded CD & DVD Display (ContainerStore.com) 4. Organize This & That (Ikea.com) 5. DIY Charging Dock Blueprint (MarthaStwewart.com)