How Long to Keep Personal Files

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When deciding how long to keep personal files, a person has to determine how important the files are and whether they may need to be used in the future. Save space on a computer by getting rid of unnecessary personal files with help from a Web designer in this free video on computer tips.

Part of the Video Series: Internet & Computer Help
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Hi, I'm Noah and today we're going to learn how long to keep personal files for. This is a question a lot of people ask themselves once files start to accumulate on your computer and you have so many that you don't know what's what and what you need to keep and what you don't. In most of the cases, all your documents will be stored in the "My Documents" folder of Windows. To access the folder, you can either use a desktop shortcut like this one, or you can access it through the start menu. Now once you've opened the "My Documents" folder, you should see all the documents that you have on your computer unless you've decided to store them in some other folder. Here, for example, you can see that there are hundreds of folders and files which aren't very well classified at all, making it a complete mess. Now, the thing to consider when you ask yourself how long to keep your personal files is how important they are, obviously, and whether you might have use for them in the future or not. So for example, if we see a file called "pin code", for example like this one, then that's probably not something we want to delete. So in this case, we'll definitely be keeping that file. On the other hand, if you have some old school papers, for example, which you're never going to use again, you can feel free to delete those, of course. Basically, the thing is with documents that are like Microsoft Word documents or other text files is that they don't take up much space on your hard drive, so you don't have to worry too much about getting rid of them to free up hard drive space. For example, let's just take any Microsoft Word document here, and check how much space it takes. For example, this file, "restaurants and hotels." To see how much space the file takes, we can just right click on it and then select Properties. Here, we can see that the size of the file is only 24 Kilobytes or 24 thousand bytes. Now just consider that 1 megabyte is a million bytes and that 1 gigabyte a billion bytes. Now you see that the file really barely takes up any space at all and that we can completely forget about trying to gain hard drive space by deleting text files, because these basically take up no space at all. What you might want to do though, is figure out some way to classify your files and sort them out so that you'll be able to find them in the future and so you'll be able to avoid a mess like this in "My Documents" folder. Now to do this, you can just go into the left hand side of the menu and select "Make New Folder." This will make a new folder, which you can name whatever you want depending on how you want to sort out your files. For example, you cold sort them out by having one folder for every month or a folder with the name of the project you're working on where you can put all of those files together or just a folder called "school work", for example. It can also be a good idea to make a back-up copy of your files on an external hard drive or a USB flash drive. By doing this, you'll have a copy to save in case something happens to your computer, for example, getting a serious virus which causes you to have to format or just your hard drive breaking down. Also, if you really want to get rid of the files on your hard drive on your computer, by making a copy you'll be able to do that as well.

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