Small Business Helpdesk

Tips & Hints

Organising your data

16 May 2001

Your computer is like a filing cabinet, and like a filing cabinet if you just throw documents in it you are unlikely to find them quickly. With thousands of files and hundreds of folders in a typical computer finding a lost document can be like a needle in a haystack.

You have to organise your data into folders and then tell your programs where you want them saved. The best way to organise your files is to nominate or create a master folder where all your files will be stored. You can then create sub-folders within your master folder. If you are sharing files on a network then one computer should be nominated as the file server and all files saved to that shared folder.

When managing your data, it is important to have a clear, logical structure to your folders that makes sense to you. For instance, you may have an "accounts" folder. Within accounts you could create sub-folders called "expenses" and "income" folders and in turn you can create sub-folders within "expenses" and "income". Different types of data can be saved into one folder, the "accounts" folder could contain word processing documents, spreadsheets, scanned receipts and the accounting programís data file.

Within your programs you need to set the save location to your data folder. Most programs have that setting either within the Options or Preferences section. Most programs hide these functions under the Tools, Edit or File menus.

Most Microsoft products have the setting under Tools, Options. For programs that donít let you change the setting you either need to become familiar with where the program saves data or manually use the "Save As" command to save to your data file.

Data management is an important part of using a computer. Your work is too important to get lost in the depths of your computer. By organising your filing properly you can save hours of unneccessary work and that is the whole point of having a computer: To help your business run better.

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