Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Organizing Files and Folders
Understanding the Need for Organizing Files and Folders
Windows XP stores thousands of files in many folders on the hard disk of your computer.
These are system files that Windows XP needs to display the desktop, use drives, and per-
form other operating system tasks. To ensure system stability and find files quickly,
Windows organizes the folders and files in a hierarchy, or file system . At the top of the
hierarchy, Windows stores folders and important files that it needs when you turn on the
computer. This location is called the root directory , and is usually drive C (the hard disk).
The term “root” refers to another popular metaphor for visualizing a file system—an
upside-down tree, which reflects the file hierarchy that Windows uses. In Figure 2, the tree
trunk corresponds to the root directory, the branches to the folders, and the leaves to files.
Windows file hierarchy
Figure 2
drive C
root
directory
top level of the hard
disk is for system
files and folders only
some folders are also
reserved for Windows
and programs
system
file
Jan bills
My
Documents
taxes
Windows
Financials
system
file
Feb bills
Program
Files
Desktop
system
file
Vacation
system
file
program
file
Creative
novel
chapter 1
program
file
novel
chapter 2
destinations
to-do list
subfolder in Windows folder
budget
files stored in a subfolder
Note that some folders contain other folders. An effectively organized computer contains a
few folders in the root directory, and those folders contain other folders, also called subfolders .
The root directory, or top level, of the hard disk is for system files and folders only—you
should not store your own work here because it could interfere with Windows or a program.
(If you are working in a computer lab, you might not be allowed to access the root directory.)
Do not delete or move any files or folders from the root directory of the hard disk—
doing so could mean that you cannot run or start the computer. In fact, you should not
reorganize or change any folder that contains installed software, because Windows XP
expects to find the files for specific programs within certain folders. If you reorganize or
change these folders, Windows XP cannot locate and start the programs stored in that
folder. Likewise, you should not make changes to the folder that contains the Windows XP
operating system (usually named Windows or Winnt).
Because the top level of the hard disk is off limits for your files—the ones that you cre-
ate, open, and save on the hard disk—you must store your files in subfolders. If you are
working on your own computer, you should store your files within the My Documents
folder. If you are working in a computer lab, you will probably use a different location
that your instructor specifies. If you simply store all your files in one folder, however, you
 
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