It's basically a haystack made of needles.
January 17, 2014 1:32 PM Subscribe
I have a ton of old, ad hoc backups from a variety of old computers going back years. I've been very good about keeping the data around and alive, safe from bitrot, but not at organizing it or keeping it useful. How do I sort through this heap of disorganized data and make it useful?
I have a lot of old media and data sitting around from a decade-plus worth of backups, old computers, relatives' computers that I inherited, junk burned to CD, etc. etc. Some of it is 20+ years old, and I've been very good over the years about periodically migrating it forward to avoid losing it to dead / unreadable media. (E.g. floppies to Zip to CD to DVD to hard drive.) But that doesn't mean I've ever really organized it, or really even looked at some of it.
Now that hard drives are big and cheap, I want to take all this stuff — basically a pile of small hard drives and DVDs — and organize it, get it merged in with the rest of my online files, and let my normal Time Machine backup process deal with it, so I don't have to think about it anymore.
So what's the best way to sort through all this stuff? Assume that everything is now in local storage, but just in folders based on whatever media it was copied from. There's a ton of crap in there (many of the drives are just pulls from machines when they stopped being used, so there are entire copies of Windows, applications, etc. on there), plus many documents are duplicated in multiple places. Sorting it out by hand seems like it'd be months of work.
I've been thinking about writing scripts to go through and copy files out based on their extension, so I'd have a folder full of Word/Excel/PPT documents, another of photos, another of video, etc. But many of the files are organized in folder trees where the position in the tree has value, so I don't want to completely destroy that. So maybe what I need instead is a level of organization on top of the actual filesystem; some sort of indexing tool that analyzes the documents and provides a good search interface...?
If nothing else, I'll just shove all of them on a big drive and let Spotlight index them, but I feel like there has to be a better way.
This is on Mac OS, but I have access to Linux and Win7 as well for the purposes of sorting, although ultimately I'd like them to end up attached to the Mac.