Understanding where your files are

Often I come across machines with files all over the place.

The owners of the machines tell me they never know where anything is or indeed how things got the way they did.

I won't explain the creation, deletion and other direct file actions. I'll assume you know you can create, destroy and move stuff :-)

All I plan to explain, as simply and quickly as I can, is how you can understand the whys and wherefores of filing data based on the model of a tree.

Let's imagine your computer stores its data on one or more "trees" inside it. Think of a storage device, be it a disk, thumb drive, DVD or indeed "whatever' as being a single tree.

Here you can see my tree being guarded by my dog Gretchen. She's not very good at guarding it, hence the possum proofing around the trunk...but ignore that.

You should think of the trunk of the tree as the entry point or "root" of the storage.

Most commonly people will be encountering C: drives on their PCs but USB drives and other added storage can and will/must have other letter assignments.

Why? Read this if you are interested...

So here's the C: drive on my tree. It is the trunk of the tree :-)

From the trunk of the tree the branches spread out.

Your data will be placed within a branch. Here you can see the USER folder/branch...

...so when looking for it, and describing it, we'd see it written down as C:\USER

The "\" is just a way of showing that a new branch has started.

Another folder off the "root"/ trunk of the tree will be WINDOWS...

...written as C:\WINDOWS

Naturally this strategy continues as further branches are encountered and/or created.

You may be familiar with your DOC (or DOCUMENTS) folder/branch...

...written and found as C:\USER\DOC

That is pretty much it.


Of course your files can be thought of as the leaves on the tree and can live in varying combinations from on branches with other branches to the tips of branches on their own.

In navigating your computer storage (drives) you see lots more folders and files than I have outlined here.

You should tread very carefully as many of them are very important and placed where they are for good reason.

If you didn't put it there, don't move or delete it.

You can see this tree structure easily with your built in Windows File Explorer, as shown above, and pretty much any other program/app you use.

This example works for Apple MACS and Linux machines. In fact every computer I have ever used stores data in this way.

So thinking of your hard drives and other storage as structured liked trees should stand you in good stead.

No excuses for a messy hard drive and lost files now ;-)

Have fun. David

#files #folders #storage #tips

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