How To Organize Your Computer’s Files For A Stress-Free Semester

Understanding the best way to organize your files can save you a lot of time and effort. Learning how to effectively organize your computer’s files is a great skill that will make your time in college a lot more enjoyable.

How do you organize your files on your computer? The best way to organize files on your computer is to pick a way that works best for you and be consistent. Oftentimes people keep changing the way they organize their files and it turns into a huge mess. To prevent that I have included my personal method of storing my files below.

What Is A Folder

A folder is a virtual container that holds data inside of it. This data also referred to as files contain information that is stored on the computer. Folders don’t actually take up space and can be used inside of each other letting the user organize the data as they please. What is great about folders is they provide a graphical interface for users to see their data in an organized manner.

Principles To Organziation

Understanding a folder layout is key to organization. Everyone does theirs differently but in the end, they follow the same principles. What are those principles? I have narrowed down and simplified what I think are the 3 major principles that guide organizing your files.

  1. Structuring
  2. Habits
  3. Back Ups
  4. You

Folder Structuring

Structuring your folders is the first main step to setting yourself up for success. It starts by deciding what structure you want to go with. I personally use a project structure that organizers my files in different projects.

For example, if I have five projects that I’m working on and a bunch of files pertaining to different projects I organize each file to the project that applies to them. If file A goes to project x then file A will go in the folder called project x. This is a very simple and straightforward way of organizing files. There are some problems with using this folder structure. A usual problem will arise when a file is shared between two projects resulting in file duplication which is not good practice.

To avoid this, a different file structure should be implemented that lets us group files into types. This is probably what most people will recognize on their computers as downloads, documents, and desktops. These folders group files by common attributes.

Taking both of these practices and combing them will create the best file structure. Each folder will have a project and file types inside the project where similar files will be grouped making it very easy to find the file you need.

Best Habits For Organzing Files

Organizing files can be hard if you don’t keep good habits now. I have included a list of things I do to keep my computer clean and in order.

Don’t Keep Files On The Desktop

Your desktop is great to drag and drop files from the internet to store on your computer but should only be a place to hold those files. Removing those files as soon as possible and putting them into a folder will remove the clutter from your desktop.

Clean Out Your Downloads

We download things every day from new software to pictures. These files are stored in our download file which gets cluttered very quickly. To prevent this be sure to move your files to a folder or delete it if you’re not using them anymore.

Delete Bloatware

Computers come with a lot of apps pre-installed on them that we never use. These apps are often referred to as bloatware because they bloat up our hard drives with files we don’t need. Its best practice to delete those files to make space on your hard drive and even sometimes increase the speed of your computer.

Naming Folders

Be sure to use a descriptive name that describes what that folder is for. The better the names you use the easier it’s going to be to sort your files into the correct folders.

Sorting Immediately

The best procedure is to sort your file immediately after creation. Moving files directly to their directories will help reduce clutter and make it easier to continue organizing your computer.

Use Fewer Folders

Sometimes people get a little crazy with the folders and have too many subfolders. This can get annoying fast as you have to open each folder to reach the file you need. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 5 files in a folder. If the folder has less than 5 then you may need to change the structure of your folders.

Cloud Storage And Back Ups

It’s very important that you back up all your files often to be sure not to lose any data. You never know when your hard drive might fail which is more often than you think or your laptop may be stolen. That is why backing up your data is always a good idea and should be done often. Cloud storage services are great as they store your data on their servers and not on your laptop. This means that even if the worst-case scenario happens you have the reassurance that your important files are safe. Be sure to back up your files often if you want to save a lot of headaches later down the road.

Consistency is Key: It Begins With You

The big takeaway from this article should be that it begins with you. It doesn’t matter how intricate your solution is if you don’t consistently follow it. It will be hard at first if you have bad habits but if you keep with it you’ll recognize the differences. If it’s too hard to do all these things pick one thing and just work at that. Once you get that move on to the next one and the next thing you know all your bad habits will be replaced with good habits.


Organizing your files can be a big task and take a lot of effort upfront if you have fallen into bad habits. The reward though is a very clean and sorted computer. Following the steps in this article will help you begin your journey to a more successful college semester and a less cluttered computer.


I'm a college student just like you. I want to know what the best tech is so I can be successful at college.

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