View Full Version : Digital clutter

3-21-14, 1:32pm
Anyone have advice on managing digital clutter? I have thousands of photos, many are work related reference photos for my art, and I tend to let it get out of control. I had Carbonite as a backup service, but I didn't like that I could not see the files stored with them, and probably won't renew it this year. I have an external hard drive that is full and I am having a hard time being able to tell what has been backed up to it and what hasn't. I would wipe it clean and re-transfer what is on my laptop except I think I have stuff backed up on the hard drive that I erased off my laptop, if that makes sense. I am going to check out doing backups to Dropbox or something similar, but I want to get my files organized and synched between my laptop and external hard drive first.

I am going to try to delve into it a bit today, but usually I can only handle about an hour of it. Any advise appreciated :)


3-21-14, 2:16pm
I know it might sound odd in a thread about clutter, but I have lots of computers. Not as many as I once did, but still lots of computers. This comes in handy when doing backups as I initiate all files on my laptop, then copy everything to a desktop and to an external hard drive. This gives me peace of mind in the event that if one source dies, I've still got everything in two other places.

As far as the digital clutter, I have that problem as well. I'm currently storing three copies of thousands of photographs which I'm reluctant to weed through. I do try to keep them organized by date taken and location or event memorialized, but have a hard time getting rid of any of them. I justify that by telling myself that deleting just one would be like removing a slice of memory, so it's not just clutter I'm dealing with, it's a moment in time.

3-21-14, 7:22pm
Anyone have advice on managing digital clutter? I have thousands of photos, many are work related reference photos for my art, and I tend to let it get out of control...I can only handle about an hour of it.


Ugh! Me, too! I currently use a combination of Dropbox and 2 different Flickr Accounts. I need to pick and choose through my digital mess and post it onto the gallery page of my website. The thought of going through all of my work is mind numbing :(

I spent an entire year of Mondays with a friend scrapbooking my 40 years of real photographs so we just need to devote time to the task of organizing my digital photographs, too.

I don't collect as many digital photographs as I used to because now I post my progress photographs on my website and/or other social marketing sites. They store my photos for me :)

I know there are a lot of other storage options out there, but in the end it's about us taking the time to deal with the clutter.

3-21-14, 8:50pm
I think you touched on something that's a good process: you put the project on your calendar for Mondays and then week by week you worked it til it was done.
I just finished a clean-up project at work (paper-related) of years of old files, and a team of 3 of us picked Friday afternoons from 1 pm to 3 pm as our scheduled time to handle it. Not all 3 of us could meet every Friday, but mostly there was at least 1-2 of us, and so after 8 weeks it got done. It was actually enjoyable because we could chat while working what would have been a tedious task for one person alone.
What was a daunting task can be finished if done in manageable but steady effort.

3-22-14, 1:31am
It is SOOOOO much easier to start organization, then to go through and organize. Your files have a date saved/last accessed, but that won't help if you have looked at them since. Naming them the event/type/date, might help, but your going to have to start, because it is a LONG process to go through and clean them out. (I learned that after digitizing my music collection).

There is a Linux/Unix command, that has various similar things for Windows. It is called rsync. This will synchronize your files and folders, so they match.

3-22-14, 5:57am
External hard drives are cheap. Go get another new one (I just bought a 1.5T USB 3.0 drive for $60). Start some kind of system that make sense. Start with the new stuff since what is on the old external is backed up at this point. Work your way back, staying on top of it as you go as well. Get yet another external drive. Every few months (depending on how much change there is over time in the files) copy off the contents onto the now new drive and put it off-site, such as in a lock box at a bank or some other secure site. Off-site storage is important as if something happens to your house, what is in it is gone, no matter how many copies you have. If it fits on a site in the cloud, use that as well.

I work in IT for a living. I MIGHT be a bit overboard on this stuff. Look into encryption for personal information using truecrypt or something similar if you put stuff like that in the cloud.

3-22-14, 7:51am
Shadow - I very much agree on the alternate storage site. For years my boss would not allow us to remove our backups from the office - stealing company secrets was a possibility. One day the sprinkler system leaked and toasted my laptop and the backup was corrupt (not sure how that happened). We got lucky in that a computer guru was able to restore most of the backups. Now- I have one hard drive at work and one at home.

Secondly, don't just keep backing up data without occasionally wiping the hard drive. If you do need to restore from a backup you could be frustrated with a ton of files that you either updated or deleted getting back onto your system. Took me some time to weed back out all the updated stuff...

3-30-14, 5:57pm
Excellent advice everyone, thanks! I'll give some thought to getting another external hard drive.