Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.

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    Chapter 10. Fixed user data

    User data is usually extremely important it can contain the results of our work, our private photographs, letters and e-mails, which have been received for many years and much, much more. As user data is so important, it has to be organized properly, so you know where it is. You want to be able to find it again and a good structure will at the same time ensure that it can be easily backed up. In this chapter we are going to have a look at different sorts of user data and their location on hard disks.

    The My documents folder

    Microsoft has, of course, an idea about where we ought to place our user data. There is always installed a system folder in the hard disk, which is meant for all this data. It is called quite logically My documents.

    I don't personally use the system folder My documents for serious storage of data. On the contrary, I use it exclusively for all sorts of temporary user files for example, photo files I am gathering to be able to burn them onto a CD-ROM or something similar. These files are copies of documents, which are to be found in the proper data folder, which is always called D:\Texts.

    Figure 54. A well-functioning system, where there is distinguished between temporary and permanent data, which is placed in separate drives. D:Tekster is where I have all my documents, fotos, HTML-files etc.

    The system folder can be moved

    The folder My documents is a Windows system folder. This means that the folder doesn't behave like other ordinary folders, the ones we can create ourselves or delete or move without any kind of fuss or bother. The My documents folder is physically placed as a subfolder to the system folder C:\Documents and Settings\. In this folder you can find a rather obscure hierarchy of subfolders, which are connected to each of the user profiles that can be logged into the computer.

    I personally prefer moving the folder My documents to a more easily accessible location than C:\Documents and Settings\username\Documents, which is its standard location in my computer. This is quite easy; use, for example, Windows Explorer and right click on the folder My documents, which is always to be seen at the top of the folder hierarchy:

    Then select the menu Properties. Then you can select a new location by clicking on the button Move:

    Then you just have to confirm that the contents of the folder may be moved to the new location:

    Figure 55. The system folder My documents is moved to a new location.

    Fixed systems, fixed folders

    It's a really good principle to keep the same drive and folder names year after year no matter which computer or hard disk you are working with. As mentioned earlier I keep all my documents in the folder D:\Tekster, which is subdivided into a number of other folders.

    This is a structure I have used unchanged since the start of the 1990s. At that time the folder contained only text documents but since then lots of photos and other graphic files have been added.

    The point being that everything that has to do with permanent user data is kept in this folder. This collection of data will be differently constructed according to what you are working with on your computer. In my case the folder consists of:

  • Documents from user programs like Word, Excel, InDesign,
    Photoshop, Illustrator, HTML files, etc.

  • All graphic files (photos, etc.), placed in a folder hierarchy under D:\Texts\Graphic.

  • Copies of e-mails (PST files, etc.).

  • Data from home banking and book keeping systems.

  • Copies of Favourites.

  • Copies of document templates (Words and scripts for back up and disk clearing, etc.

  • Data files for help programs like MacroExpress and Shortkey, etc.

    This fixed folder structure makes both installation and the daily work with user programs easier and also gives a much better overview. You always know where everything is. And next time Windows has to be reinstalled, a large part of the work is already done.

    The Mail folder

    The folder D:\Mail contains all user data from the mail programs. This means that you have to set the mail program to store its data in this folder.

    The same folder contains information about e-mail accounts (server, usernames, access codes, etc.) stored in small text files as well as copies of the certificates installed by many of the home banking systems.

    The advantage being that when you reinstall an e-mail program like Mozilla Thunderbird or Outlook, then all the data is collected and ready in one place. The folder D:\Mail is a part of the daily backup, where it is, in fact, copied twice in order to achieve extra security.

    Figure 56. Folder D:\Mail is an extra security measure.

    E-mail data

    A lot of people forget that e-mails are also user data, which it would be a shame to lose, for example, through a virus attack. So it is important to get mail program data files into the right folder. It can be a little tricky. If you use the mail program Outlook, then it stores all e-mails in a so-called PST file, which as standard stores in a folder like this:

    C:\Documents and Settings\Jette Karbo\Local settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.pst

    This system has been conceived by a Microsoft engineer it just isn't particularly user friendly. Because who in the world has enough fantasy to mess around in this folder, if they should want to security copy PST files The solution is to select another location. Open the little applet Post, which is found on the control panel:

    You can change the location of the data file here to the folder D:\Mail\Outlook. This is much better!

    Figure 57. It is important to place the e-mail program's data files in a folder by choice. The program Outlook is being adapted here.

    Outlook is rather special in the way it saves all its mails in one big file. Other post programs such as Eudora and Mozilla Thunderbird save the individual mail folders as separate files. But common for all programs is that the post files are located in the folder D:\Mail, and that the folder must be backed up.


    The system folder Favourites contains bookmarks from Internet Explorer. Not everyone can be bothered to make security copies of these links but it can easily be done.

    You can just make a copy of the folder Favourites. This is usually found in a folder like: C:\Documents and Settings\username\Favourites and it can be copied from there to D:\Mail.

    Another option is to export the bookmarks. Select the menu Files Imports and exports. This starts a guide, which is quite easy to use. The guide ends with the production of an HTML file with all the links.

    The HTML file is a homepage, which can be opened in a browser. It can also be imported to Internet Explorer via the same guide. In this way bookmarks can be re-established in a browser, after Windows has been reinstalled.

    Figure 58. Bookmarks are stored as an HTML document in the selected folder a really practical way of storing links.

    Other types of program data

    An active computer user produces many different types of user data, which is valuable and which, therefore, has to be secured. This data can be found in all sorts of places on the hard disk but if it is first located, then it is easy to make a copy.

    I do my book-keeping in an old DOS program called PC-Plus; it has to be on the C drive to work. I make a security copy of the whole program folder, which is placed together with all the other data in D:\Texts.

    The same thing applies to the different home banking certificates it can be practical to have a copy of them in the document folder, which is often security copied for other hard disks.

    If you have children, who are interested in a certain game, then it might be a good idea to make a copy of their playing positions. Then they don't have to start all over again, the next time Windows is reinstalled.

    Another object could be a document template for the text-processing program Word. These DOT files contain information about page layout, text formats, macros and much more. If you have used a lot of time preparing these kinds of templates, then they should, of course, be backed up. Otherwise they will disappear when Word is reinstalled. All in all there is a great deal of user data stored on our hard disks. Some of it is irreplaceable while some of it can be reproduced. But under all circumstances it is of great advantage if all the different documents are well organized in a folder structure as described.

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