Thursday, May 5, 2011

How to organize your computer to find information faster

An unorganized computer makes it more difficult to find information, and a computer that is cluttered with unnecessary files and email messages can be sluggish. So if you haven’t organized your computer recently and it’s running slower than you’d like (or you’re having trouble finding things), the tips in this article can help you delete or move old files and email and can even help you do a thorough cleanup.

Clear out your old, unnecessary files

So how long should you keep old files on your hard drive? If you haven't used a particular file for several months, you can probably delete it or store it somewhere else.
How can you tell how old a file is? In the folder where the file is stored, rest your mouse pointer over the file name to see when it was last modified. For more information, right-click the file name and choose Properties. You can see when the file was created, last modified, and most recently accessed. If a file is old and hasn't been accessed in more than six months, it might be time to clear it out. If you’re not certain, it’s a good idea to open it just to be sure you won’t need it soon.
Image of the Properties dialog box for a file
By looking at the properties of a file, you can see when the file was created, last modified, and most recently accessed.

You're the best judge to determine which files to keep, but you might want to consider saving these items:
  • Tax and legal information
  • Project-related files
  • Favorite digital images from the year
  • Plans you could leverage for future projects
  • Important email messages
  • Customer information

Tip: Learn more about how to sort and organize files and folders:

Desktop files listed by date modified
To quickly find files, organize them by the date they were modified.
One more quick and easy way to clear out files is to empty your Recycle Bin. All the files that you have deleted still exist on your computer until you empty your Recycle Bin. To empty the bin, right-click the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop and then click Empty Recycle Bin.
Note: If you’re concerned that, in your efforts to clean up your computer, you might have deleted files that you still need, click Open and then review the files in the bin before you empty it. To get back deleted files that you removed by mistake, select those files, and then click Restore to put them back to their original locations.
Finally, after you have cleaned out your files, learn 9 ways to manage them better. And if your computer is still running more slowly than you would like it to, get these tips for ways to speed up your PC and to optimize your computer for peak performance.

Back up important files

The next step in cleaning up your computer is to copy selected files to another storage medium, such as a writeable CD or DVD or an external hard drive. For your most important files, like project files, key presentations, or large emails, you'll rest a lot easier if you have a backup copy stored safely away from your computer—just in case you lose your computer or it fails. Learn more about options and how to back up your data.
Windows backup features make this step much easier and can help you automate the process. To back up your files, it's ideal to have a CD or DVD burner or an external hard disk drive you can connect to your computer through a USB orFireWire port.
Learn more about how to back up your files:
You can also store your backup online (often referred to as the cloud) by, for example, using Windows Live SkyDrive. Learn more about online cloud storage options.
Learn more about how to back up your email:
Tip: If you're backing up your information to a CD or DVD, be sure to create labels for your CDs that clearly describe their contents. For example, you might title the CD "2010 Archive," or be more specific with something like "2010 Presentations."

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