News from

The Computer Workshop

Space: Managing Your Files

At one time your 250 Mb drive seemed large enough that you thought youíd never fill it and now youíre lucky to get 10 Mb free. Sound familiar? File storage is an issue for almost everyone. Here are a few suggestions:

Clean your drive. Storing your files in an organized manner makes cleaning and archiving much easier.

  1. Donít store your files in the program directory/folder. It is hard to tell the difference between a file necessary to the programís function and an old file youíve forgotten. This also causes problems when you upgrade: you might throw out the older versionís directory/folder and your work as well.
  2. Use directories (folders) to group files. MyWork Smith Letr5-95.doc Letr4-95.doc Quot2-95.xls Acct95 AR.xls CashFlow.xls Acct94 AR.xls CashFlow.xls Note that several files have the same names but because their path, the location of the file, is different, the computer considers them different files.

To clean off my drive, I would put the Acct94 directory (folder) on a floppy and store it with my 94 taxes. Then I would remove it from my hard drive. When the Smith project is finished, I would transfer it to a floppy and store it with the paper copies in my filing cabinet. I can then delete the Smith directory and files from my hard drive. After removing unwanted files from the drive, I would back up important files and then de-fragment the drive by running a disk optimizer such as Norton, PC Tools or File Express.

You should be aware that floppies are not meant for long term archiving. Even though the box gives you a lifetime guarantee, what good does it do you to get another blank floppy in place of a file it took 40 hours to make? If something is important, copy it onto 2 floppies or a floppy and some other medium. Check to see that you can read the file every year or so. Some of the no name floppies being sold at the discount stores now seem to go bad within a few months so we don't recommend them. Even hard drives go bad, usually within 7 to 12 years. Be sure make copies of important files even if you are not deleting them.

If you do delete a file by mistake or have a floppy go bad, there are ways to get the information back but you need to try them as soon as you realize there is a problem. Give us a call.

What if the files are too large to fit on a floppy? There are a wide variety of removable media to choose from: Tape (slow to retrieve a single file), Bernoulli (dependable but expensive), Syquest (older drives and media undependable), Zip (at $100 for the drive and $12 for the 100Mb cartidges, this seems to be a good way for us to go), Optical & Magneto-optical (never really caught on), writable CD (great for long term storage but the drives are still about $500).

Compress your files. Supposedly, the newer doublers have no problems. We donít use file compession on our Windows machines because of previous conflicts between doublers and some of the graphics and OCR software we use. PC drives are so cheap now that it is more cost effective for us to get another drive than waste time untangling doubling problems again. We do use Auto Doubler on the Mac with no problem.

Get another hard drive. DOS, Windows: Putting in a second internal IDE drive (the most common kind in older 386 and 486 machines) is usually a matter of flipping a jumper, attaching the cables and screws, then running Fdisk and formatting the drive. An easy task if you don't faint at the sight of computer guts. Drives larger than 500Mb will probably require a new Extended IDE controller card and some BIOSes are not compatable with this. Check with the supplier or try it only if you can return it if it doesn't work. If you have a newer machine, you may have a SCSII drive.

Mac or any one else with a SCSII card: An external SCSII drive is the easiest, just set the ID # and attach the cables. You may need to format the drive.

Call us at 206.523-0872 if you need further assistance.

copyright 1998 Karen Seymour

Back to Articles index         Back to The Computer Workshop home page

Trademarked names belong to their respective companies and are used for identification with no infringement of trademark intended.