This week I go to work on the project I didn’t get to do last week. I don’t back up my stuff enough, and this came back to bite me a few years ago when my computer died. I’m not sure how much I really lost but I’m sure I lost something I wanted. Thankfully a lot was backed up to my back up drive. The back up program that came with the drive doesn’t work on Windows 10, but that may be a blessing in disguise.

My back up drive has a lot of stuff I don’t need anymore, either because what was backed up has advanced well past that or certain things don’t work anymore. There are even a few things that came up in multiple copies for different reasons. So this week the first step in organizing this drive so I can back up my computer was the project of choice. Lucky for me since starting this de-cluttering project I managed to develop a system for organizing files and collections that I was able to translate to this project, and one I should be using to further organize my various files in the future. Maybe this will work for you as well, because this can seem as insurmountable as organizing your records or your (insert really big collection here) as well as trying to cut them down to something more manageable. However, my organizing system may take more time but it’s less headache inducing and the small victories can pile up almost as much as the small clutters. 🙂

Step one was to open two windows, both connected to the back-up drive. One featured the original mess of a file system, the other a folder called “[NEW]”. This new folder would be where I move things to that I’m keeping. By having the two windows open I can easily drag and drop to the other window. This is a time saver and given my organizing system takes more time to reduce the headaches any help there is welcome.

On the [NEW] side I create the new organizing folders. At first it’s just the basics, though more can be created to better sort everything. Note that I am not doing a huge division here. All the audio files for example go in the audio folder, and I can sort out types of audio files in the next sweep. This is like with my comic books, where I first organized them by continuity, then worried about things like dates or alternate universes. Basically it’s sort, sort again, and sort each smaller pile until the job doesn’t seem so hard to surmount. I’ve done this with various medical, financial, and other records as well. Group them, then subdivide, then worry about the alphabet or calendar depending on what I’m sorting. It makes what seems to be a hard challenge easier because you’re just doing a series of smaller organizing then worrying about the big stuff in a manner that’s less confusing. I can worry about separating the July from the December files later and then worry about getting the weeks right.

In the case of this project all the audio files go in one folder, the video files in another, etcetera. Later, which as it turns out will be the next stage of the project, I can worry about separating the personal images from images for art projects to stuff I can’t use and will ultimately delete. Not that I didn’t do some deleting when I knew for whatever reason I couldn’t use the file. If it’s a public image but I can’t place the source, it went so I don’t end up swiping someone’s work. If it’s public domain, like it came as part of a picture editing or publishing program, organizing that will be part of the next phase but I know to keep them. There are also outdate program installers, stuff left behind by programs I don’t have installed in this computer but the back-up program still captured (some of these things only work if you have the program installed but sometimes the backing up program couldn’t tell that and one program drove Windows Security nuts just for existing in the folder I had open), and programs already installed on the current program that will probably be outdated and I’ll have to download the new version online anyway. Those went as well. All that was left were the stuff I think I need, at least at this stage.

With that I deleted the old folders and the stuff I didn’t need, and renamed the [NEW] folder as the new back-up of the images, audio, video, and whatever other divisions were obvious during this organizing. This is as far as I got today…I did say this method takes more time but less sanity…but it’s a good start. Next week or when I get the opportunity (I would like to finish this soon so I can see what I want to back-up at this stage) I’ll go into each folder and start going through things, creating new divisions or trimming down old ones. The end result will be less of a mess and much easier to find something that might have gotten lost without being backed up somewhere else, like an image I did for my site or something. I can also more easily trade back and forth with my laptop or share with someone else. Being able to find things is one of the goals of this project; clearing up space is another. It’s just this week it’s space on my hard drive and stuff that only exists as data. It’s still clutter.