So, my household recently bought a new NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive to replace the one we currently have, as it has been playing up. I’m pretty excited about it because the new one is a more professional type with 2 bays for hard drives. However, this leaves us with the somewhat immense task of actually setting it all up, and copying our data from the current NAS to the new NAS.
A NAS serves two main purposes: to centralise data, and allow multiple users access it from various devices. It can also serve as a backup for your data, depending on how it is set up. For these aims to be met, a fair amount of forward thinking and planning needs to be put in before the drive is set up. When we first set up our original NAS we, more or less, just copied all the media we had on our various computers and external hard drives into the pre-assigned media folder, and moved all our individual stuff into separate folders in a different share. We didn’t take the time to consider the amount of recurring data we had in different people’s folder or in the mix of the media. Because of this, our data took up more space than it was truly worth. On each computer, each person had a folder where they would save their homework, along with any other documents or files they wanted to keep on the computer. However, there were some files that nearly everyone had a copy of in each of their respective folders. All of these files, bar one, were redundant. In truth, they should have been saved in a central folder, where anyone who wanted them could go to find them. Now, this may not seem like such a big deal when they’re just a few tiny .ico files, but if you’ve got large numbers of files or they’re something like movies, then it can chew up space quite quickly.
To avoid such a situation, you have to consider what files should go where. So before you start copying anything, consolidate you data by thinking about:
- What type of file is it? Media, work document, program, some sort of back up, etc.
- Who will want to use it? Just me, or a few people, or everyone
- Are there any other copies of this anywhere else already? Are they different or are they the same? Do I need the other copies?
- What would I or someone else be thinking of if they were trying to find this? i.e. What topic does it fall under? Schoolwork, games, videos, backup copies of something, etc.
Once you’ve established the answers to these questions, you can decide on a logical folder hierarchy based on that. For example, lets say I choose a file which is a video that I think everyone will want, and this is the only copy. I can then create a folder in the Media section of the Public share (the folder that everyone uses for shared stuff) based on what I think people will look for to find this file, like Videos. I may then put other videos in that folder, and if I find there are too many files to easily find what you’re looking for in the Videos folder, I would create a few sub-folders to categorise the videos into. While this all sound like pretty basic stuff (and it sort of is), you have to make the commitment to do it at the start, otherwise files will just get put anywhere and you’ll never be able to find what you’re looking for.
The structure we’re planning on implementing has three base shares, in which everything is categorised. We’ll have:
- Workspace – where everyone saves whatever they are working on. Within this folder, each person has a folder to sort and store files in however they please, as well as a separate household folder where documents and files that relate to everyone are saved, such as family calendars.
- Media – where any files that anyone may want to watch, read or listen to, but not modify, goes. That means music, videos, photos, ebooks, and anything else along those lines are stored here.
- Systems – where we keep any backups of settings for the PCs, the router configs, as well as backups of programs and installers just in case we need them. We also have a list of programs to reinstall if needed saved here.
While it may sound a bit over the top to be thinking and planning all of this out so much, in the long term, it’s worth your while because everything is better organised. Everything is where it belongs, files are easier to find and no space is wasted on duplicates.
So, what did you think of that? Have you learnt any useful lessons from our experiences? As always, if you have something to say, like a suggested blog topic, feel free to tell me in the comments below, or on the Facebook fan page.
Your Friendly Neighbourhood
- Creating Order From Chaos: 9 Great Ideas For Managing Your Computer Files (makeuseof.com)
- Nobody likes backing up, but one day up-to-date backup of your hard drive can be a lifesaver. (stellarphoenixs.wordpress.com)