If you’ve read any of my past articles, you may have noticed that I have an aversion to the MyDocuments folder. I think it’s stupid, much like Microsoft Bob or the "Active Desktop." Let’s just say that I don’t like to have my file organization dictated by some nerd at Microsoft. I mean really, obviously, if it’s my computer, those are my documents. Duh. I don’t need a folder to tell me that. So I never use it. That folder is empty. Forever.
However, making this personal statement against MyDocuments means I have to tell every piece of Microsoft software where I do want to put my files. Other software commits what I view as an even more heinous act. By default, certain software products will try to save their data files into the same folder as the software. As I’ve mentioned in the past, mingling your software and your data is a bad idea, assuming you ever want to find or back up your files easily.
Most "lost" files stem from people just clicking Save before they noticed where exactly they were saving the file. So, here’s a tip: force the software to put files in a particular location. Most software has some kind of location for "preferences" like where you want to put your files.
For example, in Microsoft Word 2000, choose Tools|Options and click the File Locations tab. Under File Types, note the location where Word wants to save your documents. This location may not be where YOU want to put your files, so you either misplace them or spend a lot of time navigating your hard disk trying to put the file where you want it. But you can change this default location easily. With the Documents line highlighted, click the Modify button. Now navigate to a folder where you keep your documents.
For example, for years I have kept my project data on a separate drive and separate folder from the rest of my computer. So on my system Word points to D:proj. It’s likely that I’ll be saving documents into a subfolder off this folder, so saving files goes a lot more quickly than if I had to navigate from My Documents over to the D drive.