Shelves With Organized Files & Boxes

How I Organize & Backup My Computer Files And Folders

Do you have a standard method for organizing your files and folders? I've struggled over the years to create a system that would make it easy to organize, manage, and archive files and folders. And syncing them all up so I've got a backup of all these files is important. Well, I've created a good system for organizing my personal and work files and it not only allows me to manage them well, but it also empowers me to easily archive things.

The File Syncing Software I Use

I've used Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Skydrive, Sugarsync over the years. And for the most part, they've worked well. But, I ended up having multiple accounts and syncing software installed, mostly because I wasn't yet ready to pull the trigger on one I was willing to pay to use.
 
It turns out this decision would partially be made for me. We've got a lot of photos and videos, and we desperately needed a place to store and back them up. As a result, we eventually migrated them to Amazon photos. Because of the amount of space our videos took up, we had to pay for the service. About a year later I learned Amazon Cloud Drive had a Windows syncing software to sync not just our photos and videos, but all of our files. Once I discovered this feature, switching was inevitable and now I use Amazon Cloud Drive to store and backup all of my personal and business files. 
 
Since I switched, it's been awesome to have everything in one place, and the ability to sync thousands of files of all types. We currently use 230gb and have up to one terabyte of data for $59.99 per year, which is also less expensive than the other options. I've had a terrific experience and expect to use it for the foreseeable future.
 
I still do use Google Drive sync because of certain clients, but I've migrated and stopped using the Dropbox, Box & Skydrive syncing applications. If I need to share files with someone who uses any of these alternative systems, I'll use the web interface instead of syncing the files to my computer.

How Do I Organize Folders In My Amazon Drive?

While the syncing and backup software is an important step, it doesn't automatically organize my files. So, the power in staying effective is having a solid, reliable, and simple system for organizing it all. On my Amazon Drive, I've got six folders at the high level.

Personal Folders

  • Personal / Family Folder
  • Photos & Videos Folder

Work-Related Folders

  • Client Work Folder (All customer project files live here)
  • My Side Projects Folder (This is where Path Of The Freelancer, my blog files, and other projects I'm working on)
  • My Resources Folder (This includes Joomla extensions, images, plugins, tools, etc..)
  • My Folder For Backing Up Websites For Me & Clients
Once I dive into these folders, they have an internal structure. I'll share my work folder as an example. 
 
Inside my client's work folder, I've got a folder called !Archive, a folder for each client, and a folder called Unsorted. The !Archive folder has an exclamation mark at the beginning to force it to show up first in the list of folders. Sometimes I'll add a Z- at the beginning of the Unsorted folder to force it to the bottom (if it's not already). The Unsorted folder is for files I don't have a place to put, or don't want to create a place to store. The archive folder is to put inactive client folders.
 
The list of client folders will have their company name and inside of it, I'll have a series of folders including the current year and a resources folder. There are two new small client projects I took on recently so I created a folder for each of them and inside their folder, I made another folder called 2017. Inside of the 2017 folder, I created another one labeled 11, representing the month of November. Any files I create or need to save will go into that folder. Once November is finished and December begins, I'll create a folder labeled 12. Once January rolls around, I'll create a 2018 folder and inside it, a folder labeled 01
 
All saved files go into the folder for the year and month. I'm simply using the time to structure the inside of my client's folders. This creates a self-archiving system and if I need past files, I'll simply move them from a previous month to the current one. If it's a type of file I constantly need access to, I'll add it to the resources folder so it travels with me through time.
 
Throughout the year as the client folder gets filled up, I'll move my inactive clients' folders into the !Archive folder. At the start of every year, I'll also archive folders to keep it as clean as possible. Inside of my client folders, sometimes I'll also add an Unsorted folder or if I suspect I'm not going to do much file management, I'll only create the year folder, not the month, and save inside of it. If it starts feeling crowded, I'll add a month folder for new stuff and an unsorted folder for the accumulated files to date. The idea behind these variations is to only create what is needed and prevent having more folders than is necessary.
 
So to recap, I start with several high-level folders that encapsulate everything I need. Inside, I create a folder for each client, project or category sandwiched between an archive and Unsorted folder. Inside of these project folders, I create a year folder and inside of it a month one. I simply put files where they belong based on the date. No thinking needed.

How Do I Handle iPhone Photos & Videos?

So while the file management system above handles all of my computer files, you might be wondering how I manage my phone videos and photos since space eventually fills up. Thankfully, Amazon has a photos app and I simply use it to sync all of my files to the Amazon file management system. Once I've backed them up, I'll delete them from my phone saving space. My wife does the same thing. This ensures all of our photos are put into the same place, backed up and easily accessible for viewing or sharing.

In Conclusion

Having a standard system for file management allows me to stay organized and know where everything is. I minimize the amount of time I'm searching for things and instead am able to spend that energy working on my client's projects. I've had to organize and clean up many folders and files and it's so much easier to have a system that self-organizes, archives, and updates as needed.
 
What about you? Do you have a system for keeping your files organized or do you simply save everything into your computer's download folder?

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

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