Thursday, 23 October 2014

My file organisation scheme

Over the years I have collected a lot of files related to my family history efforts. A LOT of files. We're talking thousands of files, totalling a LOT of gigabytes. As you can imagine, having so many files it can be difficult finding the files you are after and it is inevitable that there will be some duplication mixed in there too.

As part of my reboot of my family tree, I want to try to restructure my digital file storage. I am doing this with several aims in mind:
  • Improve findability: By creating a logical folder hierarchy I hope to make it easier to find files. Every type of file will have a very clear place in the structure and the file names will be created using a simple set of rules. Together, these two steps will help make it easy to locate files relating to specific people, events or locations. When I get a new file to add to my collection, I will know what filename to give the file and where to store the original.
  • Reduce duplication: Source files will be kept in a single folder structure and each file will have a single canonical location within this structure. By using filesystem aliases, virtual copies of the files can be placed in various locations. So while the file may appear in several locations, only one copy will be stored in a single, easily locatable folder.
  • Reduce storage requirements on my mobile devices: My family tree in MacFamilyTree is over 1.25GB in size. That is quite a large chunk of the space available on my iPad and iPhone, so I want to reduce the file size as much as possible. One way I am planning on doing this is by storing two copies of each source file. One copy will be the original, unmodified file, while the second will be a normalised image, resized to make it more appropriate for mobile devices.[1]
Okay, so they're my stated goals - make files easier to find, reduce duplication of files, and reduce the storage requirements of my family tree - now how to turn that into practice? My next few blog posts will spell out the details, including the file naming scheme I have adopted, the folder structure I am using and my preferred file formats for mobile devices.


[1] Yes, I know I said I wanted to reduce duplication, but the space savings on my mobile devices will be worth it. Some of the source images I have are ridiculously detailed - 1200dpi or higher in many cases - so I can safely resize them to a smaller dpi while retaining readability.

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