Help with organizing my hot mess of an external hard drive!
September 19, 2012 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Good ways/ideas/tips for how to organize my external hard drive (because I put it off each time I added things to it...and now it's a hot mess). And ideas for keeping it organized when I add things in the future.

I've got the following things on it:
music (single files and whole albums, by multiple artists), videos (both downloaded from sites like YouTube and personal ones), some e-books, quite a few Word documents, and roughly ten bazillion pictures.

The pictures are what presents the biggest problem, IMO. I've got all the pictures I've saved or downloaded (those miscellaneous pics you get from the internet, desktop wallpapers, etc.) and all of my photography pictures. The photography ones are somewhat organized (and by that I mean I've got them sorted to what date they were added on the hard drive) but everything else is royally messed up.

Are folders, subfolders, sub-subfolders, and more folders the way to go? Or is there something better that can be done? I'm not opposed to renaming files and sorting through them for hours to organize this beast.
I'm setting aside monies for a separate HD for the personal photography pics, but for the time being this is what I have...ideally would like to be able to do a few clicks and have the pre-organized personal stuff onto the new HD when I get it, instead of doing it all over again.

[If it matters to anyone, it's a lovely little black HD by Toshiba, 1 terabyte. I've probably got less than 10% filled on it. I'd have to plug it in to see for sure... =P]
posted by PeppahCat to Technology (4 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Picasa actually does a good job of organizing your pictures on your drive. It finds all of your pictures and allows you to tag them. The best thing is that it organizes them so you don't have to. The problem with manually sort them into folders is that many categories overlap unless you have only photos of specific events. With Picasa, it really doesn't matter how you have the folders organized.
posted by JJ86 at 8:51 AM on September 19, 2012

Honestly, I've tried to play this game and lost several times. I finally just gave up and found a happy medium with my media-management programs. Aperture for photos and iTunes for music & movies. They have their own meta-libraries, but at least they store all the raw files/music in a sensible folder structure. Documents I save them in a top level folder and just let the search program handle for me when I want to find one. The biggest one was the music, as I had been trying to keep it organized by hand for years.

Just let the software handle it.

Note: avoid software that doesn't do something sensible like a normal folder structure of files. Once you start talking about files inside a meta-database or some shit, you're going to lose your data at some point.

And get that backup drive immediately.
posted by ish__ at 8:54 AM on September 19, 2012

For pictures, I like the folder/subdirectory structure that iPhoto uses: numeric year/month/day.

But for non-photos, I use a shallower folder structure...depending on how many files I have in a time period... sometimes year-only, sometimes year+month.
posted by markhu at 10:57 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks gang. I'm sad to say I'll be tackling this project on my next day off that it's rainy (which looks to be the coming Sunday from the forecast) so if you hear some distant explosion...that'd be my head. =P
posted by PeppahCat at 9:02 AM on September 25, 2012

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