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Organizing a Hard Disk: Folders/Subdirectories

Hard disks often hold thousands of files. Rather than piling this entire collection of files in a single and potentially massive heap, most people organize their files into groups. These groups are generally known as folders in Windows and as directories and subdirectories in DOS and older versions of Windows. You can think of folders/subdirectories as manila folders in a file drawer, each one of which can hold several individual documents (a.k.a. files).

Getting Organized

Just like setting up a manual filing system, when organizing a hard disk you must decide how many folders you need and what to store in each. Often you will place each application program and its associated files in a separate folder. For example, you might have one folder for your spreadsheet program, another for your word processing program, and a third for your database program.

Figure 3.7

Separating Programs and Files

Many people prefer to have two separate folders for each application—one to hold the program itself (this one is usually created automatically when you install the program) and another to hold the data files created in that program. You might, for example, have one folder for your word processing program and another for your word processing documents. Because it is fairly easy to copy all the files in a particular folder to a floppy disk or a Zip disk, storing nothing but data files in a folder makes it easy to create a backup copy of your data.

Figure 3.8

Folders for Different Types of Data

If you have many different types of data, you might also create a separate folder for each type. You might create one folder for business correspondence and another for letters to friends, or one for correspondence, another for reports, and a third for in-voices. Each folder must have a unique name.

Figure 3.9

Folders Within Folders

You can also create folders within folders if you like. (Folders within folders are sometimes called nested folders.) For example, you might create a word processing folder and then, within that folder, create other folders for different types of documents—such as reports, memos, and letters—you have created and saved.

Your Filing System Should Work for You

In other words, the filing system you create on a disk is as individual as the one you create in a filing cabinet. You can have your system as orderly or as freeform as you like, as long as it works for you and makes it easy for you to find the information you need.

Files in Different Folders Can Have the Same Name

Now that you know about folders, we can modify an earlier rule: Files in the same folder must have unique names. You can, however, have files of the same name in two different folders on the same disk.

Don't Nest Folders too Deeply

You can nest folders as deeply as you like. But bear in mind that it's easier to track down files if your folders aren't nested too deeply.

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