Organization … Backups

And, going right along with organizing your file structure, comes organizing your backups. backupYou may think that backups are not particularly important, but they are. What happens if your hard drive fails, for example? In my case, I had to reinstall Windows (part of the reason there was a 6-week gap in my posts) but unless you want to scan all that data again, you need a backup (preferably more than one) in another location. But where?

The answer to that last question will depend, in part, on how much data you actually have. I don’t mean the number of files, but the amount of space they take up on your device. It will also depend on whether you use a computer (desktop or laptop) or another type of device. Either way, you should certainly be looking at backing up your data externally. Here are some suggestions:

  • If you don’t have much data, copy it to an thumb drive, often called a flash drive, USB drive, or memory stick. They come in many different sizes. I have seen them hold as much as 1 TB of data, although a drive that size would be fairly costly.
  • An external hard drive that is housed inside an enclosure that you then attach to your computer via cable. I have seen them hold as much as 10 TB of data, but you could probably pick up a 4 TB drive for less than $100.
  • If you have Dropbox, that’s also a great place to store data. They used to have a free service giving you 2.50 GB of space. dropboxThat’s not much space, really, but it was free. They are honoring that for existing users, but the lowest level of service you can now sign up for costs $8.25 per month (equals $99 per year) for 1 TB of space. The advantage is that Dropbox keeps your files, and all you need to do to access the data is to sign in. The only risk is if their servers fail.
  • Microsoft OneDrive. onedriveIf you have Windows 10, you already have this service and the free version gives you 5 GB of space. This is upgradable, though. For $69.99 you can get Office 365 Personal with 1 TB of storage, as well as access to the Microsoft Office suite of programs. For an additional $30, you can get Office 365 Home for up to 6 users, all of whom get 1 TB of storage.
  • Other backup services. One well-known service is BackBlaze, which gives unlimited backup for just $5 a month. backblazeBear in mind that this is a different type of service. Unlike Dropbox or OneDrive, you cannot simply access your files online as if they were part of your filing system. Rather, you can get a free zip download sent to you via email, or order a USB flash drive ($99) or hard drive ($189), and restore after you receive it.

Organization … Documents

I have never been big on New Year’s resolutions. My attitude has always been that “today is the first day of the rest of my life.” I was horrified, today, to realize today that I have not published a post for over a month; nearly six weeks in fact. So, I have resolved to publish a blog post every day that I am not working. And no, I am not waiting until the 1st of January to begin. Which, of course, makes organization the obvious subject today.

That covers a lot of things, so today I will talk about photographs and documents. There foldersis no single way to manage these items, but you do need to maintain a system that works for you. And, while I am referring here to electronic copies, the same principles apply to the originals as well. This can be a daunting task, especially if you have a large number of items. But planning ahead will help. You don’t want to organize now and then have to re-organize later. Remember, your goal should be to make items easy to file and easy to find.

Here are my suggestions, but see also this article on organization from WikiHow:

  • Create your categories. Here, I would suggest one category for documents and another for pictures.
  • Create subcategories. For documents, these could include birth, marriage and death, while for pictures they could be for people and places. Don’t be afraid to add further subcategories.
  • Give the folders understandable names (think of them as labels) so that you know what they contain and can find them again. Color coding is a good idea too, but unfortunately you cannot do that in Windows without using 3rd-party software.
  • Do not put files on your desktop, except for temporary storage.