How to Organize Computer Files

Methods for Categorizing Computer Files

Your computer most likely uses two different types of files: program files and personal files. Program files come from programs you've installed on your computer. Microsoft Office and Adobe Illustrator are examples of program files. Personal files are those that you have personally created to store pictures, documents, spreadsheets and more. Personal files do not have a disc from which their content can be recovered and reinstalled. If you lose personal files that aren't backed up, they are simply -- and sadly -- gone.

Once you have determined which files are personal, you can begin to group them into subcategories, designating them perhaps as images, music or documents. At this point you will want to decide how you are going to go about organizing the files, such as by date or project name.

If you choose to organize by date, try to use one format consistently. For example, you might use "March2010" or "031510." Pick one style and stick with it, or you may find yourself having to reorganize your files yet again.

If you organize your files by project name, try to keep a uniform capitalization scheme throughout the files, and don't use special characters or spaces -- most operating systems won't even allow this [source: Organizing Computer Files].

If you are using a Windows operating system, there are tools built in that will help you find and edit files. The "My Computer" function and the "Windows Explorer" function both allow you to look for files and edit their names or locations. You can also delete files using the same applications.

Grouping by application is another useful way of organizing computer files. You can sort files labeled "documents" or "downloads" into separate locations.

Once you have decided on a method for organizing your computer that works well for you, the next step is naming the files you have decided to keep and putting them in their proper folders. Need some tips on what or how to name your folders? Check out the next section to get some useful tips on properly labeling computer file folders.