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Organising your computer, Organising your life

There's a lot of problems with the internet. One of those problems is how difficult it is to advertise online. So much of the web is funded by advertising that it's hard to get away from it - unless you install an ad-blocker. So you might think, well, I'll take advantage of that in my business. But it's not that simple. Unlike a regular newspaper or billboard, where you put the ad up and then you're done, online advertising is more complicated. First you've got to choose where to put your money. Is it google ads? Bing ads? Facebook or even spotify ads?

It often surprises me how people with exceptionally tidy homes can often have quite disorganised computers. One would think that the same principle would apply to both situations, but some are, I suspect, less experienced at organising their digital lives than their non-virtual ones. However, organisation within a computer has much the same benefits as organisation in real life:

  1. You know where old things are
  2. You know where to put new things
  3. You know how to get things back if something goes wrong

Backing up your data is one essential component of computer organisation. Think of it as if you're dealing with house keys. You keep a spare key somewhere in case something goes wrong or you lose the original key. Right? Humans are fallible (or, so I've been told...). By that small action, you save yourself an enormous amount of time/energy in the inevitable event of human error. Likewise by keeping a backup of your data, you save yourself huge amounts of time and money if your hard drive fails, you get burgled or a lightning strike wipes out your computer (another good reason not to leave your backup drive plugged in at all times, by the way).

Another important aspect to computer organisation is having a system that works for you, in terms of organising your files. Generally I advise people to group related documents into named folders, because creating and using folders is basic computer knowledge and easy to do. Other options exist such as tagging documents (on Mac you can do this by default, on PC you can do it via the freeware app "filemarker.net"), however these approaches can be harder to manage once you've got a large amount of files.

What I would consider to be the third most important part of computer organisation is cutting down on the number of documents/pictures/etc you have. Do you, like so many others, have 50GB of photos sitting on your hard drive? That's fine, but how are you going to find that one photo you want if you've got 40GB of photos you don't want? Consider going through your new files immediately when you get them off your phone, removing the ones you don't want, or doing a 'spring clean' on your computer each year to cull the herd. That'll make it easier to find what you want at a later point.

Programs exist for automatically sorting and organising certain types of files. For pictures, there's Picasa, which, though now officially unsupported by Google, still works well as a way to automatically sort your photos based on age, and can automatically spot the faces of friends and family for you. For music there are various free programs like Mediamonkey and iTunes, which can sort your tunes based on factors such as album title, genre or artist. Kodi is a program which does much the same thing for videos.

Ultimately there is no substitute for doing your own organisation, having a system for where to put things and therefore knowing where they are. From what I've seen, when left to their own devices most people tend to end up with multiple backup drives, files for different businesses strewn across multiple folders and computers. In other words, a mess! A tidy home is a tidy mind, or so they say, but the same applies to computers. Don't make your mind messy by making your computer messy.

- Matt Bentley, computer expert at Bentley Home PC Support.
Email info@homepcsupport.co.nz or phone 0211348576.

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