Virtual Disarray

Posted: October 29 2020

Do you have a tidy house, or apartment? Is your study desk littered with dirty dishes, empty cans and pieces of paper?

It’s nice to be house proud, and good for the mind to have a clean environment in which to live or work in.

This is all well and good in the physical realm, but what happens if you had to invite a guest into your virtual privacy? Would your cleanliness and organisation extend there or is your OS’s desk top hidden beneath piles of chaos?

I bought a new (second-hand) laptop before I started my course and I’ve set myself a task — to try and keep this computer as clean, tidy and organised as possible. Sounds simple? I’m sure a lot of you, if you are anything like me, will shake your head and wish me good luck.

With the exponential rise in virtual storage space over the last couple of decades, it becomes less and less of a factor to manage that space wisely, since it is so cheap to purchase more of this real estate.

Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash
Will there ever be enough space in the age of information?

I’ve used computers for many years, personally, and at work and I consistently see mismanagement of drive space and file/folder structure and organisation. We’re exposed to this phrase of being “time-poor”, but isn’t that just a state of mind?

My personal computer at home is chock-a-block full of drives — terabytes and terabytes of space, and my nature is just to keep filling it and filling it. And let’s not mention the pile of old HDD’s that are tucked away in a cupboard.

Good intentions. I have them. But do I have the time? I’d probably need at least a week of full-time work to tidy up my files but it’s frustrating because I always have something “better” to do. If this same philosophy was applied to my living environment, I’d have no room to move.

Not only does this apply to files — images, pdf’s, epubs, audio files, video files etc — but also to the amount of software that I have installed on my drives. This has never been so apparent to me as when I realised that I have to upgrade my computer from Win 7 to Win 10.

I’ve tried several times but keep hitting the same error:

So near yet so far!

It seems that something is interfering with the install, but Windows decides that it’s not going to tell you what. I have detached all external drives and hardware to no avail. It seems I have to start uninstalling software because something is not compatible.

Alright, alright, I’m ranting and getting off topic, but it is related. Years of installing software, sometimes unnecessarily, has resulted in my poor PC becoming ultimately bloated in every sense. Files, software, browser bookmarks — you name it, I’ve force-fed my computer anything and everything — I’m sure this is abuse in some shape or form.

So, what to do? Sure, I can install some more software that will help me start tidying up my computer. How ironic.

I just need to make the time — that’s the only answer. But the other question nags me. Do I really need to address this issue? Well, if I ever want Windows 10 I’ll need to do something.

Moving forward, as I type on my svelte laptop, I’ll try and keep my filing consistently ordered. When I download something, I try and put it in the appropriate folder. When I install a “necessary” program, I make a note in a text file I have as to what I’m installing and when I’m installing it so I have a breadcrumb trail. I’ll question myself before installing an “unnecessary” program”. When I don’t need a file for ever, I’ll try and remember to delete it. If I save a bookmark, I’ll be sure to put it in a category that makes sense.

It all comes down to planning, just like building a website or application. Write down your methods, what kind of file structure will suit you, what categories will work, then implement them accordingly.

Then, schedule a regular audit of it all, to see if you are keeping on track, because that is the hardest thing of all, holding yourself to task. It’s all well and good when you can see how untidy your kitchen or desktop is, there’s only a finite amount of space, but in your virtual world, if you run out of acreage, you can just tack on some more.

Treat your computer as if it were your home. Be proud to show someone around.

Clean environment. Clean mind.