What You Said: Your Best Organizing Tips and Tricks

By Jason Fitzpatrick on July 13th, 2012

2012-07-13_114107

Earlier this week we asked you to share your most effective computer organizing tip or trick. Now we’re back to highlight some of the great tips you shared.

If we took anything away from reading over the comments on the original post, it was that HTG readers are sticklers for good file name and folder organization. TheFu explains his multi-prong approach:

a) Never trust the file system to manage dates and times. Don’t trust any DB program to manage your files either. One lost pointer and you have nothing.
b) manually organize project files and data files
c) for music, genre/artist/album/ structures work best.
d) for photos, home videos and electronic documents, YYYY/MM/ structures work best, unless you are taking hundreds of photos/videos, then another sub-level may be needed.
e) Never trust metadata inside files unless you verified it.
f) Trust full-text-search of documents.
g) `ls -Rl > filelist.txt` is a fantastic organization tool for off-line disks.
h) If you can’t find a file when you need it, then you might as well not have it anywhere.

Backup, backup, backup …. and TEST your restoration procedures. Backups without testing is like paying a restaurant bill, but not eating or drinking anything there. It really is all about the restore, after all.

All sound advice, especially not trusting a single method (like the file names or the folders). One bad file move or batch-script execution and you’ve got a hot mess.

Ron likes to keep his folder structures shallow and use more folders and detailed file names to keep things tidy:

– I use a separate Data partition to separate apps and OS (on C:) from my data files
– lots of folders, but only 2 or 3 layers deep at most
– file and folder naming scheme
– special char like @ and # to force “important” files to sort to top
– topic tags built into start of file name to group related tips together
– article date (to judge relevance)
– full text of article title in filename
– I use a file name search tool called “Everything” from Void Tools. It ties directly into NTFS, no “indexing” required. Performs “instant” file name matching as you type. I use it dozens of times a day.
– stardock fences to organize shortcuts on my dual monitor desktop.
– Word documents to collect “random” short tips about specific subjects into a single searchable documents.

V0R73X likes to keep everything in one easy-to-backup location:

Nested Folders! There’s nothing wrong with that.
In my C Drive, I have a folder called “V0R73X_Source”, in that folder, there are ALL MY STUFF!
There’s also a copy of this folder on my External Hard drive, and every once in a while, I take time and sync it with the local one.
Now, in this V0R73X_Source, there are 5 folders:
1. V0R73X_Chaos: FUN stuff (Games, movies, etc).
2. V0R73X_Gallery: Pictures & wallpapers (not all in one place: there are folders for each category).
3. V0R73X_Library: Ebooks (also categorized)
4. V0R73X_Labs: All my projects, Articles, Notes, Source Code, documents, stuff like that.
5. V0R73X_Toolbox: All my applications (the setups only, the installed ones are in Program Files).
There’s also a folder on my desktop called V0R73X_Temp and all the temporary files go there such as Email attachments, temp notes, stuff that are not worth much.
This directory organization works awesome for me! xD

Ease of backup is always a plus; we like to keep all our portable apps in a single and well organized Dropbox folder, for example, so we can have a tidy copy of our favorite tools on every machine Dropbox syncs to.

Have a tip or trick to share? It’s not too late to join the conversation: sound off in the comments!

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/13/12
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