Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cassy's Corner- Managing Your Files

I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed and need your advice. My computer files are taking over my life and I want control back!
First, there are the files I keep for my emails. Along the left column are the mailboxes I’ve set up to store emails that maybe one day will be important to find again. I have mailboxes relating to crime information, private investigators, our local RWA chapter’s contest that I managed (two years ago and still the files are there), travel, restaurants, emails from special people I can’t bear to discard, groups related to writing, publishing houses that look of interest, and so many more I can’t begin to list. Mind you, these are just the mailboxes.
Then there is the full list of the emails that I have read but not filed or discarded. I refuse to admit to you how many there are for you’ll lose respect for me. Why do I still have them? Next comes the Trash. I never delete my Trash file for maybe just maybe I might have to go back and find something. It’s happened before.
Second, there are the files that are in my Documents folder. These are things I have written, such as my blog postings, that I want to keep. Yet, I haven’t quite figured out how to label them all so I have rapid access. For instance, how do you keep track of which version of your book you are working on? I have a naming system that seems to work pretty well. BUT, I back-up my files to the Mac Cloud, to a thumb drive and to an external hard disk. Yes, I am weird about it, but that’s another story.
So, with the back-ups a new problem arises. When I have “Time for a Change 5” as the version on my laptop and then back it up to the various sources I listed, if I make any additional changes to that file on my laptop without copying it to all the sources the same named file will be different depending on where I access it. Does this make sense?
Third, I use more than one computer. I have the Mac Airport in my house so the files can be accessed by any machine. Fine and good. Swell. Great idea. BUT, if I haven’t backed up the files to the Mac Cloud, I could open one machine and have an earlier version. Back to the previous point I just made.
Next, I could talk about passwords, but I fear of sounding too strident. I have a file of all my passwords for various groups, online banking, system administrator on each of the machines, and many more that always seem to be changing. Even Blogger and Facebook have forced me to create new ones. Then when you’re hacked, you start all over again. I keep this file on paper for I fear putting it on the computer.
Okay, I’ve sounded like Andy Rooney for too long. It’s 4:30 in the morning and I can’t find a particular file I need, hence the rant.
So, if you have solved this and are willing to share, I’m all ears. Waiting to hear from you.


Kari Lee Townsend said...

Sorry, Cassy, I am terrible at backing up my work. Grrr. You'd think I would learn after all this time.

Have a safe trip.

Cassy Pickard said...

I hear you Kari! My problem IS backing up my work. As I said, I have created a monster with so many files.

Thanks for the wishes for a safe trip. AND, I want a full report on Crime Bake. I'm so bummed to be missing it. I love that conference.

Lindsay said...

Wish I could help you Cassy. I've got two computers, a laptop for the house and netbook for writing outside the house. I back everything up on specific flashdrives so each computer will have the newest revisions.

Liz Lipperman said...

I use Carbonite as a backup. They automatically back up everything on my computer. I recently changed computers and simply downloaded all the backups on my new computer. It costs $55 a year, and trust me, I would pay much more for the peace of mind. Anyone who has ever lost important stuff on a computer knows the agony of it all.

As for different computers, my son hooked up my laptop with a docking system. Now my main computer is my laptop with my big screen monitor and big keyboard, and when I need to take it on a trip,
EVERYTHING is on there already.

As for files, take a day or so to organize them. It will be the best 24 hours you ever wasted!!

Laura K. Curtis said...

To solve the "different versions on different computers" thing, I use Dropbox. If you install it on your various Macs (I use three, also, my work computer, which doesn't belong to me, my regular Mac and my Air), it will put a folder on the computer. Anything inside that folder, when you open it, you're actually opening it on the SERVER if you're connected to the 'Net. (It maintains a local copy that's identical in case you're not connected.)

Let's say I work on my document on the train ride home on my Air. No internet. When I get home, I accidentally forget that the copy on the server hasn't been updated, and start working on the home computer one. Next time the Air is connected to the 'Net, Dropbox will create a "conflicted copy" and save both versions so I can figure out what to do.

It's the best system I've found for handling that stuff.

For passwords, notes, etc, I use something called SOHO Notes by Chronos Software. It backs up automatically in a database and also backs up to my iCloud/me.com account, so they're available from my iPad. The notes never go away unless you deliberately delete them.

As a home backup system, I use Time Machine. Works great and if I need I can go back and get something I deleted. (THis is true in DropBox, too...you can go back and get stuff you've deleted...which has totally saved my butt a bunch of times.)

I hope that's some help. Yes, I am a geek, and yes, I am paranoid, but I worked tech support for years and the sobbing people with their lost files can make you crazy.

Anita Clenney said...

Cassy, I'm not the most organized person, but I also have a bunch of folders under my inbox. One is Crimescenewriters, daily writing tips, reviews, readers, Publisher, etc. It helps but I still have so much mail just sitting in my inbox. I do have some of the mail set up so it goes straight to the folder and doesn't clutter up my inbox. that's helpful. It's there if I want it but I don't have to look at it.

I don't back up like I should. My laptop and my computer are synced so it saves in two places, and my Norton backs up. I occasionally email a copy to myself, but I should do more.

For manuscript versions, when I've made significant changes, I change the file name reflecting the date. Awaken the Highland Warrior 11-9-11 or something like that. It works okay for me.

It does get overwhelming. I feel for you.

Cassy Pickard said...

Folks: These are great ideas! Thanks so much. I'm going to go back over each of the suggestions and see what might improve my situation. You guys are fantastic. Every one of you.

You all sound so organized. I guess I need to find my own path with all of this. Really, thanks again.

Laura K. Curtis said...

I forgot to say that Dropbox is free (dropbox.com). If I sound a tad evangelical...well...as I said, it's saved my rear!

Oh, and Anita -- you don't need to save your Crimescenewriters stuff. One of the great advantages of the Yahoo email listservs is that they're searchable and archived. You can always go back via the groups.yahoo.com website and search the CSW archives.

Anita Clenney said...

Laura, you know, I thought about that once and then forgot it. Thanks for reminding me. :)

Cozy in Texas said...

How complicated life has become. I add the date of each version when I save it after making major changes. Occasionally I'll e-mail the document to myself so that I have a back up copy. I keep all my files on a flash drive and back that up to my hard drive.