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organize files

Top 10 WORST ways to organize your computer files

April 20, 2015
By Lisa Dare

Pop quiz!

National Organize Your Files Week is:

A) An important reminder to put some effort into organizing my computer and hard copy files.

B) My least favorite "holiday"; I enjoy creative chaos!

If chose Choice A and are looking for real tips for a filing system that is convenient, redundant and secure, skip to the end of the post, where we offer real advice.

But for those of you who selected Choice B, we offer this:   

The top 10 WORST ways to organize your computer files

1. Save every file to your desktop. You’ll always know where to find them!

2. Pick up a USB drive suspiciously left laying around that says “Curious? Open me!” to back up your files.

3. Print all your docs, scan them and upload them as JPEGs to your Flickr account.

4. Build a new folder for every document that includes the document name, date it was last updated, pending actions, future plans and how big the file is. For example,  expense_report_updated_3.1.15_to_file_4.1.15_please_finish_and_update_117KB

5. Use the company intranet as personal storage for all your files. Don’t bother placing all your files in one folder or organizing them into the most relevant existing folders; just do whatever is most convenient for you.

6. Email all documents to yourself.

7. Email all documents to your coworkers. 

8. Create a subfolder for every single document. While you may get carpal tunnel syndrome from excessive clicking, at least you’ll be organized. Bonus points if you duplicate the same document to multiple locations when it relates to other topics.

9. Allow your computer to name documents for you, because your OS knows better than you: Doc1.docx, Doc2.docx, Doc18333.docx and so on. Count on your basic knowledge of chronological order to find which document you need.

10. Integrate a complicated—but colorful—system of Post-its into your organizing system. After all, it’s more important your file structure be Pinterest-worthy than efficient.

A (real) no-hassle guide to organizing your files

Our Facebook and LinkedIn IT communities contributed some tips on how to achieve the ideal digital filing system:

1. Take advantage of all the free cloud storage you can get, like Microsoft’s built-in OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive, for non-sensitive files like photos and music. Amazon Prime members get free, unlimited media storage with their subscriptions.

2. Systematically back up your files. If you’re too busy or likely to forget, use a services like Backblaze, which costs about $5/month, to automatically back up files for you. (They also have a great story about getting banned from Costco.)

3. For cheap, robust organization and collaboration features, try a service like Box, which lets you share files with coworkers, assign tasks, leave comments, receive notifications of file changes, and has excellent privacy features like automatic file expirations. 

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Lisa Dare is a marketing writer for TEKsystems who enjoys learning about IT from some of the smartest folks in tech. She frequently blogs about IT career advice and the lighter side of technology, and on her off days loves to kayak and play with her toddler son.

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