How I stay digitally organized: downloads and files

This entry was posted on Nov 21 2008

I was inspired by download squads post on getting a hard drive organized and I thought I would post how I keep all my many computers organized. I hope to follow this up with a couple other posts about how I keep my cloud life organized and how I keep my media files organized but, first lets tackle local files.
To explain how out of hand my files can get, here are the computers and storage devices I use regularly: work laptop (with 2 OS’s), work desktop, home desktop, MythTV computer/NAS, wife’s laptop, wife’s desktop, numerous memory cards, 2 external hard drives, a home NAS, network drives at work (8), backup CD’s, a original xbox (which stores more than you’d think), and obviously this website/server and more email addresses than I want to admit to (or even know exist).
So lets start with how I keep my files organized on the computers I use the most. My work laptop and work desktop.
The first thing I always try to remember on my work computers is anything and everything on my work laptop and work desktop are counted as files I can lose at any time. I do not keep them backed up as often as I should because I use these computers mostly for work purposes. If I lost my job or either of my hard drives failed all of the files would be gone and I am fine with that because all of my important files are backed up somewhere else. Both of my work computers are running Windows Vista and I had to create some extra folders in my user profile to stay organized.
The first folder I make is install. This is where I keep my most used program installers that are not updated too often. Programs like Firefox, Filezilla, and Pidgin are all updated far too often for me to keep installers for them but more random/large installers I want to keep around for future use so they go in this folder. Inside my install folder I have the following subfolders: Backup, Game, Hardware, Operating System, Software, and Windows Mobile. The backup folder is not where I store backups from the local computer but usually backups for other computers/memory cards. This folder structure is almost identical to one of my external hard drives. The external hard drive keeps a much more permanent set of installers and backups but my laptop is just for programs I install often. The other folders in my Install folder are pretty self explanatory.
The second folder I create is a scripts folder inside my user folder. I have debated naming this projects because it is where I keep scripts/programs I am writing and general tools that I make for myself. For now though I just put scripts in that folder.
The last folder I make is my work folder under documents. This folder is simply for work related documents (pdfs, spreadsheets, etc.). I don’t keep a lot of work documents on my laptop because they are generally stored on my network drives at work. This folder is just for documents that relate specifically to me such as expense reimbursements, system logs, and checklists.
The last set of folders I make are in my downloads folder. Inside downloads I create a Firefox, torrent, FTP, and dropbox folder (the desktop and Starcraft folders in the screenshot are only specific to my laptop and are there for quick access). I then tell each appropriate program to put the freshly downloaded files in the correct directory (dropbox is a writable samba share folder). Once I have all the folders created I add a toolbar to the Windows taskbar for easy access because this is probably my most used folder. This is also usually my biggest place of disorganization because I download things frequently. I have found, however, with this organization it is very easy for me to go through old files and delete them with ease. I used to use Belvedere from Lifehacker but I found I did not like my files moving on their own.
My linux computers/partitions have similar folders in the home directory and my wife’s computers she keeps organized as she wishes but usually keeps important files on the NAS at home. I will go over organizing media files next.

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