December 15, 2016 22:16

Multiple backups and how to organize and store your data

portable external hard drive

The computer is a tool that can help us organize our lives and it is now essential to our survival in many professions and in our daily activities. That is why it is important to learn to exploit the organization it offers us, through the organization of information.

On your personal computer (either stationary or laptop, or tablet, etc.) you can store any information you want as a file, and keep files organized in folders.

Files for your work, such as CAD design documents, Office documents etc.
Files for your enjoyment, such as your favorite videos, movies, music, and video games.
Files for your research on any subject e.g. scientific e-books.
Files with notes e.g. about your daily obligations or the shopping list for the supermarket.
Files on your hobbies such as cooking recipes and novels in electronic format.

All your knowledge. All your information. Everything.

There are some rules for the organization of information, knowledge, in which we believe and which we would like to share with you.

We keep our computer clean and organized

We believe that our computer should be used primarily for the use of our installed programs and to save files that we need to use in the present or that we will use in the near future, and not for storing all of our files.

That way there is no danger of losing our data, if our computer or the storage media (e.g. hard disk) suffered some damage, nor can our data be intercepted.

Equally important is that we can achieve a better concentration on our work and the various tasks we perform with the computer, when our files are well organized and intended to be utilized only for our activities – professional or not – at the time. We can best work with them and locate what we are looking for, because in our field of view there are only files related to that particular phase of our lives.

The most important part of our computer that should be clean and organized is the desktop area. Ideally, it should be empty. In practice, we believe that it is prudent to have only a few files or folders that concern us or are expected to concern us. And when we finish our involvement with them, we should transport them to an external storage and clean up the desktop. If we need them in the future, we will recover from the external storage medium.

We use external storage media for storing our data and keep multiple backups

We believe in the offline data storage, quite simply because we believe our data is sacred and we want to protect our privacy as much as possible.

So, we recommend storing it in external drives (HDD or SSD) with a USB connection or a NAS network type. To protect them we can use any well-known and reliable method of encryption, such as the BitLocker, so that the disk data can only be read by using a password that we know.

The beauty of the external storage is that you can transfer the information and knowledge you have in your mind, in small storage devices that fit in your pocket!

You can drop a part of your memory into a USB stick, and clone this memory in many places, back it up in many USB sticks.

Mind Transfer to Digital Storage

If you need to remember something you can always open your accumulated digital knowledge and – if you have properly organized it – you can easily locate the information you are looking for.

If you are the organizational and anxious type of person who wants to remember everything, you can relax and focus only on the present’s issues and transfer the large volume of information in your head, into a digital memory. All your notes, all your knowledge. Everything that you can effortlessly remember is good, but you no longer need to worry about remembering it.

Even for the present’s issues, you can have a small piece of paper with a list of things you have to do, so that you don’t have to remember them. This piece of paper along with the temporary files you have on your desktop, is all you need to remember about! Just remember that there is a piece of paper (maybe at your office, on your desk), and also open your computer on a regular basis.

Todo List Paper Note

One logical concern you may have at this point, is the loss of your memory. What if you mess up or you lose your disks? It goes without saying that your data must be stored on multiple disks. Keep clones. How many? As much as you want and can maintain, but at least one. So you should have your data stored in at least two places. In a primary external drive, and at least one clone.

Naturally, that raises the question of synchronization of all the clones. There are several programs for copying and synchronizing discs. First you must decide how often you will synchronize your disks. Each month? Every two months? If you spoil your primary external disk, you will have only lost the data from recent months. You can avoid such a loss if you have a backup somewhere on your computer (in a folder or another internal disc) which will keep the data of the last month, that you’ve already copied to your primary external drive, and that you will remove after each synchronization. So even if your primary external disk breaks and the clones did not have the data of the latest months, that data will still exist as a backup on your computer in a place that does not draw your attention.

Finally, you can develop your own methodology for faster and effective cloning, as it is time consuming to transfer all data from one disk to another every time you’re doing backups, and as it stresses out your disks. The wisest and fastest procedure is to only transfer data that was created or modified in recent months, either using a smart program, either manually (copy-paste folders and files) using the search of Windows Explorer and the keyword datemodified: to locate all your files that have recently changed and that need backup.

We organize our data in folders using wise hierarchy and names

Since we’ve embraced the philosophy of having a clean computer and desktop and since we’ve stored our data on external storage units with multiple backups, all that remains is to learn to organize our data and keep it in a good order so as to identify easily the information we want when we need it.

For this purpose, the rule is that we should have a folder hierarchy with a few basic categories of data. What will these be depends on the needs of each person, but it is advised to make them less than ten. Also, it is advised that you use English for their names and be brief and not descriptive. The reason is that even today there is a limitation in Windows in the length of the “path” to a disk file. Specifically, the path to a file, which is the name of the disc drive together with the name of the folder and subfolders and the name of the file itself, cannot be more than 260 characters (letters, numbers, symbols).

We recommend the following 7 categories: ebooks, movies, music, personal, programs, projects, videogames.

Data Organization

Each category is advisable to have 1-2 subfolders ideally and at most 4-5 subfolders.

  • ebooks: Your e-books. Books in digital form. You can have direct folders with the titles of books or organize them into folders by their categories e.g. “astronomy”, “computers”, “novels”, “comics”, etc.
  • movies: Your movies. You can have direct folders with the titles of movies or organize them into folders by their categories e.g. “sci-fi”, “comedy”, “westerns”, etc. However, movies take up a lot of space on a disk and as a result performing backups becomes time consuming, so you may want to avoid storing them since now there are several ways to view them online. Except maybe if it is one of your favorite movies or if it is difficult to find it online.
  • music: Your music. You can organize it into folders by genre e.g. “rock”, “jazz”, “soundtracks” etc. The organization of your music is purely a matter of taste.
  • personal: Your personal files. Here you can save your log of web addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses, usernames and passwords of your accounts, your resume, your photos, your degrees, material for your hobbies, etc. Some suggested folder names are “CV”, “photos”, “career”, “achievements”, “hobbies”.
  • programs: Your programs. Save your collection directly in folders with the titles of the programs or organize them into folders using program categories e.g. “security”, “maintenance”, “multimedia”, “operating systems”, etc. In order to save space and avoid having a lot of subfolders, do not store the programs or installation files. For each program you can have a TXT file with information about the program, its settings, and especially the site from where you can download it.
  • projects: Your work. Your businesses. Organize your work files, whether they are old or active projects, and save all the useful knowledge that you gather for your profession. Anything related to your work and research on your profession, has its place here. Use a subfolder to sort and conduct business per customer and include all their relevant information, such as your customers’ phones.
  • videogames: Your favorite video games and video game emulators. Save programs related to video games, such as their installation files. Do not forget to store your mods, save files, walkthroughs and instructions for each game!

In all these categories there are sub-types of files over the primary types of each category such as the movies are expected to store video files along with subtitle files. Also, in all categories it is expected to have some common file types such as plain text (.txt) for notes and information about the other files and the purpose of each folder.

Finally, try to use well-known file types that are supported by many programs, so that you can read and edit them in the future. For example, store your music in the format of MP3 and FLAC, movies and videos in MP4 and MKV with well-known audio codecs, subtitles in SRT, photos and images in JPEG and PNG, your books in PDF and your notes in TXT format.


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