What is a good filing system for a new computer?

Aaricia Aagre May 13, 2013

I am getting a new computer, and before I begin to use I would like to set up an easy to use, easy to find filing system.

I already have plans to partition the hard drive. Data and Programs on separate drives. I will have a one Terabyte HDD for data, and 120GB SSD.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  1. Tom
    May 27, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    First you must decide how many folders or directories you want to have starting with the initial view at the root level. If you use sixteen, for example, with appropriate subjects on each, you can access any of 4096 files quickly by just moving through two subfolders (16X16X16) assuming that you maintain 16 folders in each case. Then you can access 65536 with four levels. The trick is to use logical titles and categories, including dates where useful. I slowly build my subdirectories over time so as to test my scheme and revise as necessary. I find 16 is a good base as 16 items can be scanned relatively easily and I also like the icon view sometimes and 16 items form a 4X4 square window yielding maximum area with minimum perimeter. I'd be happy to email anyone my own categorization/titling scheme if there is any interest.

  2. Martin Harvey
    May 27, 2013 at 11:33 am

    All good responses and I think like some of the responders I'm not sure what you;re really getting at. If you are looking to organize information for categorizing and later searching and retrieval then another spin might be Onenote or Evernote. This provide superb ways of "filing" information that is for active or reference type of retrieval. Both add great organizational and search features and extensive use of tagging. What's really neat is you can capture emails, files, notes, voice notes, clip webpages, copy in PDF's and pics and so on. These days I'm a bigger fan or Evernote than Onenote as it works seamlessly on all platforms and has a plethora of apps you can add. Plus it's free unless you need the pro features. Search on Youtube for examples of using - see my friend Daniel Gold at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMXyudCXZqs

  3. Nevzat A
    May 27, 2013 at 8:41 am

    It's generally ignored, but you can also use Windows 7 (and later) "Libraries" function to ease your file/folder classification further. Just bring your files and folders that are related to something that means to you under a Library, after that you can easily access them in that library. For example, I'm using my custom "Works" library on my work PC, I've put all my work related files and folders under that. Look for more info here : http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/products/features/libraries

  4. Mahesh Kay
    May 18, 2013 at 9:02 am

    I have good experience with directory opus, if you mean file organization and management in the OP.

  5. Dany Bouffard
    May 14, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    If you need to do a complete inventory of the files on a disk I can recommend you Advanced Disk Catalog, but its a bit old. There may be some better alternative. I make disk with Anime I collect and then scna the disk with Advance Disk Catalog. then I save it as a database file and from there I convert it to a .html so its easy to browse the files.Just have to open the .html into a browser and do a crtl-F to find what you need.

  6. Oron Joffe
    May 14, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Thanks for clarifying Aaricia, perhaps what you need is a "personal document management" system. There are many of them about (just google the term and read reviews). Fro what I can see, both DEVONthink Personal, Tabbles and DocQuisition all look good for "typed" documents. For images, you may want to look into ThumbsPlus (bit of a learning curve, but very powerful) or ACDSee Photo Manager.
    As I said in my original post, the secret to success (if there is one at all) is to combine good filing with good search tools, and I think I'll stand by that statement.

  7. ha14
    May 14, 2013 at 9:52 am

    if it is picture folders then some do organize with EXIF info

    Sort photos into a structured folder format by Year, Month and Date Taken:

    The Best Way to Organize Your Massive Photo Library

    Picasa Sorting photos

  8. Alan Wade
    May 14, 2013 at 6:31 am

    Could you define what you mean by filing system? It is such a diverse word in computers that its hard to know if you are talking about office files - docs, spreadsheets etc or programs or music and photo's etc etc etc.

  9. Rajaa Chowdhury
    May 14, 2013 at 1:30 am

    Bruce and Orof has already described things beautifully, nothing more to value add. :D

    • Chris Marcoe
      May 14, 2013 at 2:15 pm


  10. Oron Joffe
    May 13, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    If by "Filing system" you mean how to organise your files, the answer could stretch to many pages, but here are a few pointers. I am assuming you're getting a Windows PC, but the same most of the points would also apply to the Mac and Linux.
    Use the "Pictures" and "Videos" folders for those types of files as it's much easier to go with the flow than against it. Use the "Documents" folder for "typed documents" (word processing docs, spreadsheets, CAD drawings etc).
    Create folders for your main categories (e.g. home, study etc), and give them SHORT descriptive names (I use keywords). Create subfolders as necessary, but don't overdo it. One of the most annoying things is to have to "drill through" half a dozen folders every time you load a document.
    Create an "old stuff" folder. If you use the computer for things which go in cycle (e.g. if you use it for business which can be segregated by financial year, or learning materials which go by semester/term), then create folders within "Old stuff" for each past year. Either way, the important thing is to remove anything which is NOT CURRENT and put it in the archive. This reduces the clutter in the "current materials" folder (i.e. "Documents") and makes it much more manageable.
    Try to avoid putting files at the top level of "documents". If you have unclassifiable documents, put them into a "misc" folder. Likewise, if you have configuration files etc, create a folder for them. This will help leave the documents folder tidy and manageable.
    In the pictures folder, it makes sense to create a folder for each "roll of film" (typically, pictures taken on a particular event, but it could correspond with every time you upload photos instead, or a month, or any other reasonable scheme). Again, name the folders reasonably - you want to be able to recognise the stuff without stretching your brain too much!
    Next, remember that Windows has an excellent search facility. Use it! You can search by file name, date or contents. For photos, either use the normal filing system or commit yourself to a photo management system such as Picasa or Adobe Lightroom. Avoid "half using" a photo management package as this will be a total waste of time.
    Windows offers a vast range of additional facilities (e.g. libraries), but for individuals who start out with a well organised disc, these are not normally a great help.
    Remember, not too many folders (perhaps 20 within any other folder); use nested folders but don't overdo it; give them short, descriptive names (likewise with documents of course), and use search from time to time.

    Good luck!

    • null
      May 14, 2013 at 5:39 am

      Thank You everyone for your answers. I should clarify my position. I am looking for some organizer type person who is good at sorting a lot of information and in a retrievable manner.
      I saw one system today where the man had only 3 Master Folders, One was Current work,
      Two was Completed
      Three was archieved.
      In a business setting that will work very well.
      Take for instance Pictures folder. Place all your pics inside this folder. Make a Folder For a Camera off load. Date that, and again for the next Camera off load.
      Now when I have 15 off loads, I have to search all those folders to find the shot I want. (of course I some Idea of the time frame, but my mother scanned Slides in for some 50 years.)
      So really what I need is a scheme that will allow for really good retrieval of information.
      Again thank you so much for your answers.

  11. Bruce Epper
    May 13, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    If you are referring to a filing system for your data files, it would all depend on the data files themselves, your preferences, and the way you use your data.

    For example, on my data drives (yeah, I have more than 1), I have one hard drive set up for my Linux distribution ISO files, another drive has my ebooks which is further subdivided into directories for those pertaining to Linux, Windows, Unix, Security, and other subcategories. There is also a directory on the same drive for Windows downloads which are then grouped by Imaging applications, Video applications, general utilties, extras from Microsoft, programming-related items, etc. I also have another hard drive that only contains source code for thousands of programs which are grouped by the programming language used and subgrouped by the program's main purpose. That hard drive also contains a Music directory where I have most of my CD collection that has been converted to MP3. Another hard drive contains the movies I like to watch repeatedly on my computer that I have ripped from the DVDs so I don't have to physically change the disc in the drive, I just mount the appropriate ISO file to watch whatever movie I would like. I have multiple drives that I swap out that contain backups of the critical items on my system, including system images and copies of my virtual machines so I don't have to recreate them in the event of a catastrophic failure.

    As you can see, there is a bit of complexity with this sytem, but it works well for me and allows me to easily get whatever I am after with a minimum of fuss and without having to resort to any kind of search utility to find what I want (with the exception of what I have burned onto CD or DVD, but I have a program that has all of those files indexed for me and returns the exact disk number I need to retrieve something from those archives).

    Granted, a system like this won't work for most people, but you can use this as a basis for your own simpler system that will fit your needs.

  12. ha14
    May 13, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    you mean to install applications?

    The Best Windows Software


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