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Friday, September 14, 2012

How to Organize Your Electronic Files

Monitor with picture of a yellow flower.

My daughter was the worst when it came to keeping her electronic files organized. She was always looking, never finding, and completely redoing letters, resumes, and other documents.

I tried for the longest time to get her to use an electronic filing system, but for some reason - it took her forever to do it. I think when she lost some of her kids pictures, she finally realized she needed a better way of putting and finding things.

There are a couple of issues with not having an organized electronic filing system. When you redo a document time and again, you may leave out something important, if you are running a business you can’t afford to have multiples of the same documents floating around with different information.

Many documents won’t take up a lot of hard drive space and with hard drives getting larger and larger you may not need to worry about it, but I like to keep things organized and know right where to go to get what I need and get the right information the first time.

Organizing Electronic Documents

Many documents are now stored electronically rather than in printed form. When we refinanced our house the final paperwork came electronically and we signed them electronically. If your kids are in school, most reports are done on the computer and filed on the computer. Many bills can be accessed and paid online, etc.

Not only do we store documents but pictures too! I’m a photobug and I have literally thousands of photos, I miss film, but with digital cameras today it does make it easier and quicker to view and store them on the computer.

Organizing your electronic computer files gives you a systematic way of finding the files you need, when you need them instead of them going into the black hole of lost media.

Give Everything A Place

Who hasn't heard, "A place for everything and everything in its place." That’s what you will do electronically.

One other reason to organize your documents - if you change computers, you know right where to go to copy all your files to the new computer. And you won’t have to worry if you copied all files or not.

Documents

Before you start creating your files, map out a plan. By that I mean what kind of documents do you store on your computer? Business, Personal, Kids, School, Finances, Calendar for appointments, Contact Names and Phone numbers, etc.

On a PC, your documents will be stored in Windows Explorer under the Documents section of the computer. Give your folders memorable names.

For example, create a folder for everyone in the family that uses the computer, if you have kids that use the computer for school work, create a folder for each of them to save their work into.

Under your folder maybe you have subfolders called Resume, Recipes, Kids Chore List, etc.

If you have a business, your main folder would be the business name then have subfolders for Employees, Management, Clients, etc.

If you need to have subfolders under subfolders, this is OK as it helps define the structure a little better.

Pictures

If you’re like me and take a lot of pictures – you need a place to find them all and keep those precious memories safe.

Again, on a PC, your pictures will be saved to the Pictures folder. I create a folder for each year. Under that I create other subfolders for Christmas, Easter, (someones) Birthday or Wedding, etc.

This way I know right where to go when we want to set up a family slide show for the holiday dinner.

Backing Up Your Files

Never trust the reliability of your computer because things can and do happen. Computers have hiccups that can cause a hard drive to fail, a motherboard to go bad, maybe you spilled your coffee, or lightening caused a surge and damaged something.

So make a plan to backup your files, it really is an important step. I have an external drive that backs up all our files once a week. I also back up to CD or DVD a couple of times a year.

You can also use Cloud Computing and store your documents and pictures up in the Cloud. Whatever you choose, you won’t regret it. Most options are relatively inexpensive.

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