Easy Digital Filing System How to Organise 2021

Always in Motion

Chris San-Claire Design – Graphic Designer London

How to plan a digital filing system?

All our files and images are cloud storage, multiple devices, and portable storage systems in today’s digital world. A digital filing system and how to organise it This article will address Microsoft Windows, OneDrive, and mobile devices for personal and work files.

Why is an Organised Digital Filing System So Important?

We have digital files all around us these days. These days, one of the most accumulated photographs taken on mobile phones or a collection of shared images from family and friends. Although e-mail stays within an application or online, it is one of the most.

With 306.4 billion e-mails was estimated to have been sent and received each day in 2020 and 2017, there were 1,200 billion photos taken.

Then depending on your everyday life, there are many documents in the formats of .doc and .pdf. Our bills and paperless life with information exchanged have become the norm for an eco-friendly environment.

What do we do with all this? We read and view and store not a lot in a folder we just downloaded to or on our mobile devices. So, who do we find things with once we have them?

Well, images are more straightforward as they are visual and can be scrolled through easily. Documents are more of a challenge. Where did I save it or downloaded it, or which device?
Cloud storage has come about in digital times. They were expensive at first, with low storage capacity with free accounts from Dropbox, Google and OneDrive. Mobile companies got us hooked with new phones and cloud storage for two years, only to find out you need a subscription at the end.

Microsoft is introducing OneDrive, which was a slow start and teething issues. It has become a part of the Windows ecosystem Office 365 subscription. At the same time, leaving most other cloud providers to specialising in niche enterprise business, not to say that Microsoft is not up there.


Storage Devices

Where does one start with desktop computing, portable hard drives, USB sticks, mobile devices, and cloud services? Gone are the days of floppy disks and compact disks, cloud storage for the win!

The win would be if used correctly. This all depends on the service provider. How it will function, general they all operate the same way are a hard drive, drop it in and store it.

Well, it is all good having your files and photos up on the cloud with time. But, will you ever find anything or know what they are?

I use two cloud services and three devices. Two portable storage drives, and trust me, it gets busy. This brought me to write and designed a system that would work for me and my need. Of course, everyone’s will be different in a situation. I use Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, which comes with 100 GB of storage for live projects. I then move them to OneDrive for storage.

OneDrive provides me with 1 TB of storage with my subscription to Microsoft Office, a godsend. I have space for most of my files, photos, projects, and a full downloaded copy on my desktop computer. The important thing here is that I have two copies of all your files. Should one or the other fail in any way, I will not lose out.

Portable Storage drives are catalogues of downloads and creative files, an extensive collection of photographs of an amateur photographer.


Organising A Filing System


Designate a Storage Place for All Document Types

Organising your digital files, we first understand how each device works—seeing how they manage storage, starting with Windows PC (No Access to Apple Mac). But, first, let us see how Windows folders by default.

Windows comes setup with the following folders:

  •  Desktop
  •  Documents
  •  Downloads
  •  Music
  •  Pictures
  •  Videos

The above list has been the form for donkey’s years, so how will we arrange our files? Well, I have a list of folders I keep for my files under Document. I separate by Broad topic.

Create Sub-Folders in a Logical Order

I could create my own, and I’m sure that you get the idea. Installed software will create folders within the document folder for its own needs, in the other system folders like music, picture and videos.
You can create something similar to the image below to see a digital filing structure.

Windows Default Folders into a manage Structure

Windows desktop file management system

Illustration of Windows default folders used to manage your digital files.

As you can see, it’s an excellent way to manage your files, photos and videos.

This file structure works for me, but we have an issue; what happens if some hardware fails or a virus crashes your computer or laptop?

Here is where cloud storage service comes in with the same layout format as your folder.

You can achieve this two ways either use both the cloud and your devices such as desktop or laptop computers or have it all on the cloud with the same structure and accessible for your computer or on the fly.

OneDrive has already some folders to get you started as defaults. The Picture folder will be one of them; and will be the folder that syncs your mobile images.

The only thing is that this is where OneDrive will sync from your mobile images will be synced to the cloud. So I would advise you to choose Photography or something with a similar effect.

Windows did introduce these folders to be redirected to your cloud when first installing OneDrive or a new installation of Windows 10.

I cannot give my opinion on the all-in-one to the cloud as I had already accumulated vast amounts of files to move to another method or system at this time.

I have the same folder and file system mentioned above on the creative cloud for ongoing projects. Once they are finalised, I transfer them to OneDrive.

On the creative cloud, I have the same system as mentioned before. I have ongoing projects and have them laid it out in the same way on the creative cloud.

The only difference is that in the creative cloud, I use the root folder. Where OneDrive I need to have a Projects’ folder as OneDrive has its default folder for Pictures already, and it looks a bit like this:

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage file planning system illustration

Logical Hierarchy is what we see here to help manage your file system. Although not all operating system works the same way, and there are rules to each of them.

Stick to Common File Naming

There are many ways to name your files, for example, a document name James Stuart Quote.doc.

Projects > James Stuart > Documents> 2020> James Stuart Quote.doc

Is that enough information on the naming? When was it sent? Who sent it? An alternative would be James Stuart Quote 2020-05-18.doc. On a Windows PC, the link to the Document will look like this

(C:\user\chris\documents\projects\James Stuart\documents\2020\james Stuart Quote.doc)

When sending this Document to a person, they are not enough information in the name itself. Adding the date can quickly be filed and found by the sender and receiver of the Document giving it an additional identifier.

An important thing to look out for is the length of the Document’s address as in window 260 characters are allowed and symbols not able to be used “/? < > \ : * | ” ^ “ within the naming of folders and file names.

Another thing to be aware of is Lynx OS naming needs to be joined. There are no spaces allowed meaning your file name. The solution might be better off by placing an underscore between each word like “James_Stuart_Quote_2020-05-18.doc” this format goes with all files to Lynx OS.

Be Specific and Use Dates Where Possible

Filing becomes easier once you have a plan and create your digital filing system. Keep in mind to set out simple rules and easy to follow adding dates as with the James Stuart quote 2020-05-18 you can identify files and version’s with a few clicks.

I will point out that files sent to you will most likely no have your format for naming. This is because files sent to me are filed in a separate folder, not to change the reference to that file.

File as You Go and Clear Documents Regularly

Final thoughts yes, it can be that easy file and go; once you mastered and alter your system, it is an instant reflex, memory muscle, as they say.

Remember that you shouldn’t just delete business-related files, except you’re 100% certain they will not be crucial again.