Clean Up and Organize Your Files on the Network

When was the last time you did a little spring cleaning with the files stored on the College network? If you’re like me, it’s been a while. Quite a few of us at San Jac have a tendency to go through files and documents like a flu victim goes through cough drops and tissues. As a result, the content on our H: Drive, the G: Drive, and the P: Drive can pile up rather quickly.

Add the fact that we can’t always stop what we’re doing to do a little clean up and that several people may be editing the contents of a folder. All of these factors can lead to file storage anarchy!

Okay, maybe “anarchy” is a little over-dramatic, but you can see where the potential for dishevel arises. After a while, your slice of the network could end up with duplicated content, misplaced files, and old/outdated documents. This can make it difficult for users to find the files they need and takes up valuable storage space.

Some of you are probably already pros at keeping your files on the network organized and updated while others have never attempted to consolidate their folders. Most of us fall somewhere in between. Regardless, cleaning up and organizing files/folders on the network is something we should all be doing. By doing so, we can make it easier for co-workers to locate the information they need and keep the network free of clutter.

Ready to take the plunge? Here are some tips to get you started.

Organizational Structure
If your network share doesn’t currently have a folder structure in place, now would be a good time to develop one. You don’t necessarily have to start creating folders now; instead, pull out a sheet of paper and draft a potential structure (see image below). If you’re organizing a folder on the G: Drive or P: Drive that multiple people have access to, try contacting each of them for their input.

File and Folder Naming Conventions
It’s best to keep file and folder names short and to the point as longer names can be harder to read. You don’t have to keep it short all the time though. In some cases, longer names may be the better option (for example, abbreviating words to shorten the name may cause more confusion).

It’s also recommended that you use special characters as little as possible; instead, use letters and numbers to name files and folders. You don’t have to avoid them completely as they can come in handy with certain naming schemas. If you do use special characters, try to stick with underscores and dashes only.

Develop a Standardized Structure and Naming Schema
This is important especially for folders on the G: Drive and P: Drive because several of them are used by more than one individual. When it comes to shared folders, it’s best to confer with others who use the files to come up with a plan that everyone will agree to. This can also minimize disorganization because everyone will be using a consistent formula for adding files and folders.

Keeping What You Need, Ditching What You Don’t
Do a thorough review of all files and ask yourself if you really need them. Typically, files to watch out for are those that were created or haven’t been updated in a year or more. Also, keep your eyes peeled for files that appear to have been duplicated. Unless you have something like a versioning process in place, there’s no need to keep the excess copies.

Once again, if you’re working in a folder on the G: Drive or the P: Drive that is used by several people, make sure to contact them before deleting files!

And if a File Has to be Stored in Multiple Places
If you have a file that needs to be stored in several folders, store the file in one location and then create shortcuts in any additional locations the file should reside. Not only does this help conserve space, it makes it easier to ensure updates reach every location (once you update the file, it’s automatically updated in all other locations).

To create a shortcut, right-click on the file and select “Create Shortcut” from the menu that displays. Then drag the shortcut file to the additional locations.

Store Your Personal Files Elsewhere
This is particularly true for the G: Drive and the P: Drive. These network shares are for College-related materials only, so if you’re storing personal files, images and videos, remove them and instead store them on an external drive or flash drive.

Rinse and Repeat
Set up a regular schedule for reviewing and cleaning up your folders (once every 3-6 months, for example). It’s much easier to keep your files organized if you routinely check their structure/relevancy.

South

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