File Management – My Documents and The Windows Recycle Bin

Q All my files are in My Documents. Is that a good idea? – M.D.

A As you have noticed, Microsoft assumes that you want to keep all of your documents in the My Documents folder. In Microsoft parlance,
virtually everything you save to your hard disk is a
document, even if you don’t normally think of it as
such. Whether or not you want to store information in
the My Documents folder depends upon your organization style. If you typically file paper documents
by tossing them on top of a stack, then My
Documents may be a good storage space for you. On the
other hand, if you file your papers neatly away into
folders in a filing cabinet, then you probably want to
consider taking a similar approach with your
electronic documents.

Like a filing cabinet, the information on your
hard drive is organized into folders. Folders can
contain additional folders as well as individual
documents. You can create your own folders to organize
your documents, and you can name them anything
that makes sense to you. If you want to, you can
create new folders in the My Documents folder, but
you aren’t restricted to placing them there. To create
a new folder, open Windows Explorer, navigate to a drive or a folder, and then choose
File|New|Folder from the menu. Explorer will create a new folder
in the currently selected drive or folder. From then
on, you can save documents to your new folder when
a program prompts you for a location.

When filing documents, remember that retrieval
is the key. The best way to figure out how to file
something is to think about where you would
naturally look to find it later. It is important to organize
your files in a way that makes sense to you.

Q Everything I have deleted is in the Recycle Bin. What happens to it? Does it go away
after awhile or do I have to clean it out some way at
some time? – N.L.

A Anyone who has been using computers for very long at all is familiar with the panicked
feeling you get when you accidentally delete a file
that took a lot of time and effort to create. Before
you reach for the bottle of nitro to calm your
palpitating heart, take a look inside the Windows Recycle Bin.
If you deleted the file from within Windows
Explorer, there’s a good chance you can get it back with
a minimum of fuss.

Whenever you delete a file, Windows asks you to verify the delete operation. But even if you
respond with Yes, you still haven’t really deleted the file.
Windows puts the file into the Recycle Bin, which is
essentially a special folder on your hard disk. You
can access the Recycle Bin by double-clicking on its
icon from the Windows desktop. If you choose
View|Details from the menu, you can see just
about everything you need to know about your deleted
files including their original location and the date
they were deleted.

To restore a file, select it and choose
File|Restore from the Recycle Bin menu. Windows moves the
file back to its original location on your hard disk
and you can just pretend the almost-nightmare
didn’t happen.

So if your deleted files never really go away,
don’t they waste hard disk space? Well, yes, to a point.
If you right-click on the Recycle Bin icon and
choose Properties from the pop-up menu, the resulting
dialog shows you how the Recycle Bin is configured
for your machine. You can control how much disk
space is set aside for the Recycle Bin. If deleting a
file causes the bin to "overflow," Windows prompts
you to delete files from it.

When you delete a file from the Recycle Bin,
Windows permanently deletes the file and makes the
disk space it consumed available for other uses. If you
are running low on disk space, you can use this
technique to recover some extra bytes. From within
the Recycle Bin, you can clear it out entirely by
choosing File|Empty Recycle Bin.

The Recycle Bin Properties dialog provides a
few other configuration options. If you hate the "Are
you sure?" prompt, you can uncheck the Display
delete confirmation dialog
option. Windows will
no longer warn you when you are about to delete a
file. If you never accidentally delete files, you can
check the Do not move files to the Recycle
option. Windows immediately discards deleted files and
bypasses the Recycle Bin entirely. (If the idea of
checking that option makes your hair stand on end,
then you have the right attitude toward it.) Finally, each
of your drives actually has its own Recycle Bin, and
you can use the Configure drives
option if you want a different configuration for
each drive.

Sometimes it does make sense to bypass the Recycle Bin. You may need to delete a large file that
is already backed up elsewhere and you don’t want it
to continue to hog up disk space in the Recycle Bin.
If you hold down the Shift key while you click on
the Explorer delete icon, Windows still prompts you
to confirm the delete, but it permanently deletes the
file when you click Yes. This Shift key technique
works when you delete items using the menu or Delete
key as well. So, be glad the Recycle Bin exists for it
is your friend. Now that you know more about how
it works, you can fine tune it according to your
own computing style.

Q I am sure you get this question quite a bit, but how much of a problem is the changing over to the year 2000 going to cause for the
everyday citizen? Some people believe there will be a
total meltdown of all aspects of life within 60 days of
January 1, 2000. Are these guys completely off
their rocker, right on the mark, or somewhere in
between? Thanks a lot. – E.H.

A Any prediction relating to the fallout from the millennium change is a WAG (wild @$%#* guess) at best. No individual or organization
truly understands all of the systems that will be affected
by it. Likewise, no one knows how quickly or
successfully the failures will be corrected once they
are found. Some companies are ready, some haven’t even started looking at what it will take to get
ready. Procrastination rules. The thing we really have
to worry about is panic. If people panic and
withdraw their money from the financial system, they will
compound the problems that are bound to occur. In
any case, many people are going to go broke in the
year 2000, and others will make a killing. Ultimately,
life will go on and people will figure out how to
deal with the difficulties because there is no alternative!
I know my response is not very enlightening or substantive, but anyone who does claim to know
what will happen is blowing smoke up your kilt.