Navigating the Ocean of Technology - Part 6

Files are the heart and soul of your computer. When you think of the things on your computer, you think documents, pictures, music, videos, programs, cookies, viruses (ok, not YOUR computer) and so on. These “things” are all files that exist in the computer’s file system which is basically your hard drive. On any computing device that has mass storage, the most indispensable tool provided by your operating system is the file manager. Whether you use Mac OS-X, Windows (any version) or Linux, the file manager is how you locate, copy, move, delete and open files on your computer hard drive.

The “desktop” on your computer extends the paradigm of the folders and files of the file system. The file system uses folders (also known as directories) to make it easier to deal with the myriad files on your computer. Folders are just like the manila folders they mimic. The folders themselves have only a label also referred to as “file name” — it’s the files inside the folder that have all the good stuff. Just like with a physical filing cabinet, you can open a folder and manipulate the files (usually paper documents) in that folder. You could copy the file, delete it, or move it or the copy to another folder — and, of course, more.

The file system folders are organized in an outline format. Folders can be “expanded” to reveal their contents which can be more folders and/or files. Some special folders require special care. Folders that hold the operating system files (e.g., “Windows”), programs and settings should be left alone unless you know exactly what you are doing. The folders and files that are most relevant to you are those in the user folders. At the top-level of the file system outline, there is a folder — named “Users” or “Home” — that contains the name of each user. Inside the folder with your username, there are folders for different types of files — such as “Documents,” “Music,” “Downloads,” and so forth.

This set of folders containing original material that you produce, purchase or download is referred to as ‘user data’. Additional folders with descriptive names can make it a lot easier to find data. For instance, music usually has a folder for each artist and inside the artist folder, there is a folder for each album. The music folder usually has software to help organize the music so you don’t have to do it yourself. Documents, downloads and pictures are more likely to need your organizational help. For documents, it sometimes helps to organize folders by subject and/or date. With pictures, you might try organizing by date and/or location/event.

It’s important to organize your data so that you can easily find your files long after they were saved on your hard drive in the same way that it’s important to organize and file your paper receipts so they are ready to be attached to your annual tax return. Operating system and program folders can be reinstalled in the event of a computer crash as long as you have the original DVD and software licenses. User data, however, can be irretrievably lost if the computer hardware becomes damaged. That is why we recommend regular backup of your user data.

If you have questions or suggestions on future topics, write us at or follow us on Facebook (#CompassComputerClinic). Stay safe and be happy!

Date: February 9th at 12:55pm
Author: Jim Chenvert
Tags: windows, tips