How I stay digitally organized: media files

This entry was posted on Dec 03 2008

As a follow up to my “How I stay organized post” here is how I keep my music, pictures, and videos organized.
First I need to talk about where/how to store important files like media files. All of my media files are stored in one place as a master and multiple other places as copies. I keep my master copy on my home NAS and then I have secondary copies on my laptop, desktop, and MythTV. I also keep a backup of the master on one of my USB hard drives and a second backup on my webhost (no you can’t have access). This is the ideal way to keep this information backed up for me. If I ever find a file that is labeled wrong I change it on the master copy and eventually it will filter down to the copies. Storing everything in one place has helped my organization habits more than anything.
My music folder is organized with the following folder structure.

In order to keep all of that organized I had to make a standard naming scheme for all my files too. Here is what I chose. My album folders are named %Artist% – %Year% – %Album% and my songs are named %Artist% – %Album% – %Track% – %Title%. I chose this naming scheme so that if a file gets lost somewhere where it does not belong, which they often do with this many computers, I can easily find where it goes. Two extra things that I make sure all my music folders have is every album folder has a folder.jpg file of the album cover art and every artist folder has a copy of the folder.jpg named after each album I have. For example I have the artist Bush. Inside of that folder I have two folders for the two albums I have and two pictures for those albums. This way when I view the artist folder I can see what albums I have without even opening the folder. This doesn’t work so well in OSX or Linux but works great on my Windows machines and Xbox Media Center.
I have used TagScanner to edit all of my songs by hand. Yes it has been very tedious but I have yet to find a automatic tagging system that did well for me. I also use TagScanner and Album Art Downloader to embed album pictures into all of my songs. This took a while but is worth it when you see the album art in XBMC, on an mp3 player, or any other player that supports viewing album art from within the ID3 tags.
My pictures are stored in folders with the “Date (Event)” so Halloween is “2008-10-31 (Halloween)” This sorts my pictures by date taken, and then with a description of what the event was. If the event is multiple days I use the first day for the date and then I have sub folders for day 1, day 2, etc. I keep a few category folders for folders I don’t want to have to sort through every time I view my pictures. Some of the main folders I have are Automotive, Desktops, Misc, Downloaded, and folders for Beth and I. Desktops and Automotive are pretty obvious but Misc is for 1-2 pictures for a event, screenshots, icons, and drawings. Downloaded is for fun pictures online that I have found. :) The user folders are for project pictures and other misc stuff that Beth and I want to keep.
Finally, videos are stored by type. Not filetype but more source type. Movie, TV, Web, Shot are the main categories I have. Most of my shot video is actually in my pictures folder with the event it is tied to.
Once all my media is organized on one source it is fairly easy keeping it maintained (so long as I am the only one writing to the NAS). Got any tips or questions just let me know in the comments.

2 Responses to “How I stay digitally organized: media files”

  1. Hey,
    I just came across your blog via Lifehacker and then found this post.
    Funnily enough, I am using almost exactly your way of organizing music and pictures, and I even use Tagscanner and tagged all my files by hand too!
    My folder structure looks like this:

    AB\Artist\Artist – Year – Album\Track – Title.ext

    I ditched Artist – Track – Title.ext for this version, as I found some apps have problems with those otherwise long filenames.
    I also added AB, CD, EF and so on as a structure to minimize the amount of folder I see when I enter my music folder. If I would have to face all the Artists folders at once, my Windows-Explorer would certainly go nuts over so much subfolders.

    As you obviously also like to browser your music by Cover, I’d like to know what software music player you are using the most?
    I tend to fall back to Winamp again and again, as Songbird, Foobar a.s.o. really start to annoy me after a month or so.
    But Winamp doesn’t have a nice cover view imo…
    Or do you browse via explorer and then just play the files in some player?

    Keep up the nice blog!
    Greetings from Germany,

  2. I actually typically don’t play music much through my computer itself because the main places where I do work I have a HTPC with a receiver set up. I mainly play music through XBMC on my MythTV machine or using software on my phone (Nitrogen for Windows Mobile and the built in audio player for Android) while driving or working out.
    If I do play music from my computer (and it isn’t through Pandora/ I have been using Zune software because it looks the best, is dead simple to manage playlists, and their DJ mixes work better than anything else. The biggest problem with Zune is it is a resource hog, but my machines typically handle it just fine. I also used Windows Media Player built into 7 because I was able to stream my music from my home server while I was at work. But once again it is kinda a resource hog. If you are using Windows 7 the media player in media center is really nice but has problems with a SMB share and is more designed for a 10-15′ interface.
    In Linux I use Banshee, XBMC, or rythumbox depending on which computer/VM/partition I am on.
    If you want to stream music using UPnP I recommend Twonky if you have some money or MediaTomb if you don’t. Twonky allows for the folder separation (ABC DEF…) like you like without needing to actually put files in those folders which is really cool. I use that to stream to my PS3 occationally.

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