Organizing Your Computer

A while ago, in class, us students were sitting there waiting for the instructor to boot up his computer. When he finally did, before starting the program he needed to start, I was horrified to see that he had to sort through many, many icons on his desktop in order to find the program he wanted.

It was a mess. There were icons everywhere on the desktop, and I could only imagine what was saved into the various folders in his actual hard drive. It must have been a LOT of programs because his computer was running very slowly and it was pretty much at capacity.

I am a bit crazy about my computer, obviously, because this was under my skin all day. I can’t imagine how somebody works like this, especially an instructor, who, like a blogger, is on the computer a lot. Maybe I am a bit OCD because I went home and looked at my computer and cleaned it up and organized it until it was perfect. It was pretty much perfect to begin with but I did have some rogue files.

So, in the name of computer sanity everywhere, I urge you to clean up your computer. Here’s how I did it (I use Windows, but if you have a Mac or other operating system you can still follow similar steps):

Start at Start

Click on your start button. Scroll through the “Programs” menu. What programs do you use regularly? Keep those (of course).

If you don’t know what some programs are, chances are that you do not use them. Sometimes, when you download something onto your computer, files and programs get added that you do not need. Why keep them? They are using up memory and possibly making your computer move slowly.

Remove the programs you haven’t used in a long time, and the ones you didn’t even know you had installed.

This will free up memory in your computer to store other, more important programs.

Go Through Your Images

When I use an image in a post, or really for anything, I like to save it onto my hard drive to prevent broken or missing links in the future, should the picture be taken down from the site from which I saved it.

Because of this, I tend to have a lot of pictures saved onto my computer that I don’t need.

I also don’t tend to delete bad pictures off of my camera until they are on my computer, which makes it so they accumulate quickly.

Go through your images and delete the ones that you don’t need. Organize them into folders and alter them as you need to.

Buy an External Hard Drive

If there are things that you do not want to get rid of but that you hardly ever use, buy an external hard drive and transfer your files onto that, freeing up more space on your computer hard drive for important things that you use regularly.

For instance, I have documents that I would like to keep of projects from school, but I don’t use them or refer to them regularly. There were hundreds of them, and they made it harder to look for things that were more of an immediate need.

External hard drives can be cheap on sale, and can also protect those important documents in the case of a computer crash.

Organize with Folders

Folders are awesome. They make things easy to find and they can help with cleaning up your computer to be more streamlined.

I have some folders within folders to keep me organized. I have master folders for:

  • Work
  • School
  • Blog
  • Personal

Within the “work” category, I keep my resume and cover letter template, and any professional development documents that I need or any of my work things that I need to save at home.

Within the “school” category folder, I have all things pertaining to my education, with folders within that folder for each year, class, and finally, project.

Within my “blog” folder, I have folders for all of my blog related activities. One for each blog, one for staff writing, one for my blog commenting services, and one for my advertising tracking.

Under “personal“, there is everything that pertains to my life.

I find it very important to keep my computer organized. Since I work a lot on my computer, it’s imperative to my productivity to keep things streamlined and easy to find.

How do you keep your computer organized?


Organizing Your Computer — 25 Comments

  1. The thought makes me nauseous! My kids, my wife, and me, all have our junk on our computer! We try to keep folders for each of us, but it’s still a mess. And the kids download games and then they all sit on our desktop. Man, it does need to be cleaned up though, if only so that we can freaking find things when we need. And hey, maybe it’ll speed up our computer!

    • Hahaha! I know that’s always the problem with family computers. My brother and I downloaded so many games when we were young that our computer was running at a snails pace.. but back then all computers did anyway.

  2. I have to keep my computer (well my work computer) organized. Otherwise I feel as if I can’t get anything done-I’ll be looking for something I saved or thought I saved and not actually doing work. So every few weeks, I go through and make sure everything is filed or deleted.

    • Ick! I’m so glad that we have different logins at work, so no matter which computer I am on, it’s just MY stuff. That woudl be difficult to deal with! Especially if you don’t know who wants to keep what.

  3. How timely, this is. I am just changing computers and using the opportunity to do much of what you advise. Of course, it will be a bit more chaotic but still much better than it was. Thanks for this, Daisy.

  4. I got a chuckle out of this article, as my desktop is well organized and sparse, whereas my wife’s is chock full of icons. Here’s what I’ve learned: What I perceive as inefficient disorganization works best for my wife. She would find more stressful and unnatural working at keeping her desktop organized than letting it grow ‘organically’ and dealing with occasional difficulty in locating stuff. I believe these sorts of predispositions are truly genetic–what a wonderful assortment of personality types we have on this planet!

    • So true, it’s very personal. When I asked my professor who had the crazy desk top how he could work like that, he explained that he worked better when it’s like that. Everyone is different!

  5. Oh, don’t get me started on this… My screen fills up with documents, images, icons and whatever other garbage that somehow gets on there every month. I am already using an external drive to save everything important so it’s nice that you mention it here – very important!

    • It is! I’m always paranoid that my computer will crash and with it will go all of my important files. My content on my hard drives on my computer/external drive are worth far more than the $1000 laptop!

  6. Removing programs doesn’t free up memory, it frees up disk space. Your performance is only throttled when you get down to your last few gigabytes of free disk space on the partition where your operating system is installed. Windows uses a few gigabytes of disk space as virtual memory. Disk drive storage is so cheap now and you typically get around 500 gigabytes or more now, so most people probably don’t have to worry about this being an issue.

    External hard drives are a great idea. I store all of my data files on a network attached storage (NAS) hard drive. It has 2 hard drives, 1 mirrors the other. So if 1 crashes, it automatically uses the other. If my hard drive crashes or if I have to reinstall windows, I don’t lose my files.

    • Hahah you’d be surprised at how much disk space I use on my laptop – of course, I didn’t really get the best laptop so that’s probably why but it definitely lags when I have too many programs on there. Then again I’m dead set and determined to use my 4 year old laptop until it officially dies, so I’m really not operating on the most up-to-date system.

  7. It’s also really a lost cause trying to clean up a windows desktop I find. Certain system events frequently cause all of the desktop shortcuts to get randomly strewn all over the desktop. I get everything organized like I want it, then windows mucks it all up. It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle just to find it in 100 pieces the next day. Windows does this all the time and I don’t know that there’s a fix for it.

  8. Start-up programs are definitely super slowing to a computer. I remember when I first got my laptop, and when I would turn it on for a lecture it would take like 20 minutes to boot up. My brother finally caught wind of it and showed me what was wrong – I had dozens of programs that would start when I started my computer.

  9. My main computer is very organized (desktop) but my laptop is a mess. I need to work on it this weekend. Timely advice.

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