Don’t store files on your desktop!

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Does your computer desktop look like this?

I know, I know. Your desktop is the easiest place on your computer to save pictures, text documents, recent downloads, whatever. It’s so convenient to just stick that file there where you know you can find it again.

Don’t do it! Here’s why:

1. Files stored on the desktop slow down the computer’s overall operation. Not drastically, but some.

2. Your desktop will eventually run out of visible space. Then what? (Some of you reading this may be out of desktop space already!)

3. Most importantly, the files on your desktop at this minute are probably not backed up. If they are important enough to be quickly accessible, they should be backed up. When I set up an automated backup procedure on a client’s computer, the first step is to get all the important files – the ones that need to be backed up – into one folder. Then you just have to back up that one folder. If you have anything on your desktop that you wouldn’t want to lose, it’s in the wrong place.

The solution? Shortcuts.

You can fill up your desktop if you want to (although #1 and #2 above still apply). But instead of putting the actual file there, just have a shortcut to that file.

Here’s an example of how to do that. Let’s say you have a folder on your desktop that contains several Word documents pertaining to your business. That folder is called “Loan papers”. You want to store this folder in a location that is safe, but you still want it to be easy to access. Here are the steps to do that:

1. Right-click on the folder itself, and in the new menu choose “Cut”

2. Open your My Documents folder (in Vista, it is just called “Documents”)

3. In an open area of the My Documents folder, right click and choose “Paste”. Now your “Loan papers” folder has been moved from the desktop to the My Documents folder.

4. In the My Documents folder, find the “Loan papers” folder that you just moved. Right click on it, and choose “Send to – Desktop, create shortcut”

5. Close the My Documents folder and go back to your desktop. You should see a new icon there called “Shortcut to Loan papers”.

So whenever you need to open that folder, you can just double click the icon on the desktop and it will open just like it always did. The difference is that the icon on your desktop is only a shortcut icon – the actual file is stored safely in your My Documents folder, where it should get backed up nightly.

(If you need an automated backup procedure set up, contact me. If you are wondering if you really need automated backup, here is the answer: you need automated backup.)

This week’s video – can you imagine playing this game?

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Adam J
July 1st, 2009

I have seen a similar game played at VBS. But you didn't use hands for the "mush", you used marshmallows instead. There was no board too. I think the game was called "Chubby Bunny," but they called it "The Clocktower Chronicles" to coincide with the VBS title. By the way, I feel sorry about your car. I wonder who did it. (Just to help, it was NOT me.)

April 4th, 2011

“Files stored on the desktop slow down the computer’s overall operation”

Why? What is it EXACTLY thats causing the slow down?

Scott Johnson
April 4th, 2011

Anything stored on the desktop is recognized as part of your user profile on the computer. That profile has to load each time you boot up. The more data on the desktop, the bigger the profile, and the more resources it takes to load all of it. That slows things down.