Hoarding . All of us have more or less the same problems when it comes to files and folders on our computer. Some of us know it, others ignore it and most people just don’t give a fuck.
Most of us that have used a computer for more than a few months have a lot of files. We take some pictures, make some movies, download some music or maybe we write something here and there. You will end up with files everywhere and you can’t find anything.
Unless, you have a system.
My system. I have three types of content stored on my computer that I care about. Source code, pictures and my writing. All of them are different and have different systems in place to make sure that I store what I need and get rid of or archive the stuff I don’t need.
But I also have a “general” system for everything else. I use Dropbox for almost everything, and I love it. It makes sure all of my files and databases are available across all of my macs, and it also makes the process of configuring a new mac a lot easier.
Archive. I have one folder in Dropbox, on the root level called Archive and inside that one I have a few other folders named something like “20130810”; this is the date of today.
What I do with this structure in to quarantine files for deletion. The first thing I do when I have a spring cleaning (or any other time for that matter) on my computer is to go through this structure, all of the folders with a date older than 6 months are checked, if I still think I will need the files inside them I’ll move them to another folder inside Archive called “Permanent”.
So put everything that I don’t need now, but I might need later into the Archive structure; it is in one place and it is simple.
The reason I do the whole quarantine process is to figure out what files do I really care about six months after I put into some place I can’t get to in just a few clicks.
And then I stop syncing the folder to dropbox and removes it.
Source code. Most of my development peers have a copy of most of their projects since they started doing development, and I have nothing. Some of it is due to a few hard drive failures, while others is just because I don’t see the point in storing unmaintained code.
How relevant is the code for your CMS if you don’t maintain it for a few years? And how much less work would it be to start from scratch than to rewrite your old code?
Pictures. I lost all my pictures in a hard drive failure sometime in 2007; that was the point when I started researching and implementing insane backup systems.
There are a lot of different approaches to handling pictures, anything from keeping every single shot to just the best.
All of my pictures are shot in raw and the converted to Adobes DNG format when I import them into Lightroom. After that I will star them from 1-5; everything with 1 will be deleted within the day, and everything with 2 will be exported and than archived in other places (I will come back to that in a few moments).
All of my pictures with marked with either 3 or 4 stars will be re-evaluated at least a few times a year. I do this to make sure that my library only have the pictures I am proud of and think is really good. I don’t need 400 pictures of the same landscape or sculpture; I want the 10-15 best pictures.
2 stars. I use the 2 star mark as a collection of pictures that are not amazing, but I want to keep for sentimental reasons. But I will not keep them in Lightroom for very long. I export both full size JPEG and DNG files and then I just delete them.
The DNG files will be archived in Dropbox and then I add the jpeg picture files to Evernote. Some of them will live forever in Evernote, while others are deleted later on.
Text content. Almost everything I store of text content is blog posts, school papers, poems and stuff like that.
I used to store all of them in both either nvalt or Ulysses and wherever they were used.
For example, I had a copy of every single blog post I have written for the last few years there. But, I came to the conclusion that I this was a really stupid idea. I have all of the good ones on my Squarespace site anyway.
So I deleted them.
To make this short and simple. Most of my drafts live in byword, ulysses or nvalt; while all of my completed documents live either in some kind of blog, site or document system – or just in nvAlt or Ulysses.
I want one copy, and many back’s of it. But not more than one copy of any single document or file on my harddrive.
Important. Nobody in this digital age can store everything and be able to find it; except for John Siracusa.
You need to find the apps and services that you need to manage, sort and store your data in a way that makes everything manageable. The most important thing is to find the files you need, when you need it!
Think about how to find the information later on, when you don’t remember where you saved it. Try to store all of the content of the same type in the same place, and avoid all proprietary and “closed” systems that don’t have a very good export feature.
But, you also need to have a workflow that makes you go back and to review everything. You need to remove all the clutter, all of the files you don’t need anymore.
Remember, you need to have at least on local backup to an external drive and one in the cloud as a bare minimum.