Between using a number of desktops at work, home, my mother's, and my
fathers, not to mention my two laptops and notetaker, I too am one of those
with several files everywhere. sometimes I have files only on one machine,
sometimes I have files on more than one machine, other times I have the same
file in different levels of editing on several machines. This isn't even
mentioning my numerous, or thanks to my mum accidentally putting one through
the washer machine semi numerous, thumb drives and compact flash cards.
What I try to do is
A, get rid of any files which are duplecates or obsolete. B, save the remaining files with proper names. This includes not only using a book's entire name, but if it isn't a book or something with a proper name then I use names which make sense. Like, here at work I have to write progress notes about the students in all my classes. At first it seems it would make sense to call the file progress notes, but then you have to relise I not only have five periods in a day, but also have five semesters in a year. If I ever need to look back on a file I don't want to go look in each file until I find what I want, so I name it with the specific class name, semester, and year.
C, put the files in places which are consistant. Like, if I downloaded a book from bookshare using kurzweil they always go into a folder called downloads, which is a sub folder of the folder called kurzweil educational systems, which is a sub folder of my documents. once I'm done reading it I manually move it to the books folder, which is on the same level of downloads. While this sounds easy enough, trust me with the amount of reading I do and devices I use this is sometimes hard to keep track of, so I do ocasionally do have to go in and open and close a lot of the framiliar sounding titles of the download folder to see what I have in fact finished or not. I have learned while I do have one folder on the same level as the other two which contains several books in various levels of editing, never do I put any books in my documents or other places because then I have to look through many many more files to find what I'm looking for.
D, ocasionally I consider a, b, and c, and go through everything. Not only do I clean out each indevidgual machine, but I also compare one machine verses another. Like, sometimes I may download a book onto one machine and not finish reading it. Rather than bothering to move it from one machine to another I just redownload it onto the second machine. Now, after I'm done reading it there is no need for two copies. I can easily delete the ones I know are duplecates, but still how do I know which machine to look on for that one file if I haven't used it in a long time? In this step d I remove all books which I don't need any longer and place them all onto one particular machine. That way if I want to go back I always can find things easily. That machine by the way is set up to make periodic back ups of itself on an external hard drive.
I not only do this with books, but with all my documents, email, and other files as well. Additionally since my book port and notetaker use compact flash cards I like to clean those out as welll.
Finally, the last thing you have to consider is for those files which you want to have access to from the other machines like your phone/address/appointment books, or other documents in various stages of editing. Rather than just copying those files or folders back and forth where they are overwritten I usually prefer to import and merge it so I have all contacts and other essential information on all computers.
As to files which I not only have on more than one computer but regularly edit, it is sometimes dificult to just copy back and forth because you're not always sure which is the most updated copy. In that case, after editing the file I sometimes put a number or date at the end of the file name. I don't do it with the file menu and save as, because then you again get more than one copy. Rather than have duplecates I close the file, right click it, and then just rename the file. If you didn't want to put numbers in a file name you can always go into the properties of a file with alt enter, and it will tell you the date this file was created and the date when it was last revized/saved.
While I certainly can't brag about it being the most organized method, it does work for me. The main thing is to find a method of what ever you like and stick to it. If not you will eventually end up with files floating all over the place and it'll cause chaos any time you need to find anything.
Now, if I could only find a method of retrieving a meal from the kitchen without actually applying time into the preparations...
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