IET Knowledge Base

Computer File Management

Published: Mar 06, 2013

When working with file management the first analogy to think of is that your computer is much like a filing cabinet. You wouldn’t just throw papers into a file drawer hoping to quickly locate it at a later time, so you shouldn’t just save files onto your computer’s hard drive in hopes of locating the file for future use.

Think of the hard drive (C:/) of your computer like the entire filing cabinet. Your filing cabinet may only hold five drawers, but your computer could have as many folders as it can hold, it depends on the size of the hard drive. Within a filing cabinet drawer you could have folders to separate your papers – on the hard drive you could have folders within folders – these are called subfolders.

Creating Folders using “My Computer”

  • Double-click on My Computer
  • Double-click the drive letter in which you are creating a new folder.

NOTE: Drive Letters MAY be different then what I have listed below

    • A:/ = diskette (floppy or diskette drive)
    • C:/ = hard drive
    • D:/ = CD ROM (only able to do this if you have a CD recordable drive)
    • X or Y:/ = Personal server space (Y is faculty/staff | X is student)
  • Right-click in a blank area of the drive window (the window that opened after double clicking on the drive letter)
  • Highlight New
  • Select Folder
  • Name the folder

Creating Sub-folders

  1. Double-click a folder to open
  2. Right-click in a blank area of the drive window (the window that opened after double clicking on the drive letter)
  3. Highlight New
  4. Select Folder
  5. Name the folder

Folders are deleted by right-clicking on the folder name and choosing Delete from the menu.

You can also rename a folder or file by using the right-click method and choosing Rename from the menu.

Creating Folders within Programs (i.e., Word)

  1. Click on the Open File icon. Or, navigate to : FileOpen
  2. Choose the existing folder you want to create a new folder within. (Example: I want to create a folder under My Documents called Personal. I would select the My Documents folder.)
  3. Click on the Create New Foldericon
    1. Name the new folder
    2. Click OK

Changing Directory Views

You have options on how you view files within directories (or folders). The options are:

  • thumbnails (small picture representations of your files, best used for viewing images
  • tiles (small folder and file icons listed in rows and columns – gives file size and file type)
  • icons (similar to tiles, but a little smaller – does not show file size or type)
  • lists (alphabetically lists all folders and files – folders are listed first)
  • details (similar to lists; however, you will see categories within the listings: the size of the file, the type of file, and the last date modified – in the details view you have the option to sort the list by any of the categories shown)

To change the directory view:

  • Open the folder
  • On the Toolbar, click the drop down arrow to the right of the Change View icon ()
  • Select the desired view

Saving Files to the Home Directory

If you are concerned about your computer crashing and losing files, you can save files to your personal server space. The only way to gain access to those files is to be logged on to a computer, which connects to the server.

  1. Log on to your computer
  2. Create any document , as you would typically
  3. Save the file, but change the drive letter from C: to X: or Y:
    • The drive name will begin with your logon (Example: My drive name is ‘shelia on ‘lsbs1\UserShares$\’ (Y:)

Moving Files to the Server Directory

You may already have files created and you want to move them over to the server.

  1. Click on Start
  2. Go to My Documents or to the folder where your documents are saved
  3. Find the files you want to move to the server
  4. Highlight the file or files
  5. To highlight multiple files, which are all in a row, highlight the first file in line – hold the shift key down and highlight the last file in line.
  6. To highlight multiple files that are scattered throughout a folder, highlight the first file – hold the control key and highlight the remaining files.
  7. Edit , Cut
  8. This will move the files from the current folder to the clipboard
  9. Edit , Copy will place a copy of the file on the clipboard
    • Double-click on X or Y :\
    • Edit,Paste

Moving Files from one folder to another

Moving a file will remove the file from one location and place the file in the destination.

Selecting More than one file at a time

Select continuous multiple files

  • Change your directory view to details (mainly to practice changing views)
  • Left-click to select the first folder and/or file in the list
  • Scroll down through the list (you will have to either scroll down OR up)
  • Press and hold the shift key
  • Left-click the last file in the list with which you would like to work

Select multiple random files

  • Change your directory view to Lists (to practice)
  • Left-click to select the first file (you do not have to go in order as the files are listed, if you see a file/folder you need to select above something that is already selected, that is acceptable)
  • Hold the control key down while left-clicking other files needed

Select groups of files

  • Change your directory view to icons
  • Place your cursor at the bottom-right of the grouping of files/folders you want to select.
  • Left-click and drag up and over to select all the files/folders needed – release the left-click
    • If there is a file/folder that is not close to the grouping – press the control key and left-click that file/folder.

Move using drag-and-drop

  • Locate the file/folder to move
  • Open a new window that shows the destination
    • Minimizing both windows helps to see more clearly what you are doing.
  • Left-click on the selected file/folder to be moved – without releasing the left-click drag the file over the name of the destination folder – if the folder is open – drag the file into the window.

Moving using Cut and Paste

  • Locate the file to move
  • Right-click and select Cut (Ctrl-X)
  • Locate the Destination folder – right-click and select Paste (Ctrl-V)

Copying files from one location to another

Copying is the same as moving, except when you copy a file/folder you keep the original in the current location and place a copy of the file in the destination.

Using the same methods above to select files (left-click and drag, select and press shift, or select and press control)

Moving using Copy and Paste

  • Locate the file/folder to copy
  • Right-click and select Copy (Ctrl-C)
  • Locate the Destination folder – right-click and select Paste (Ctrl-V)

Changing the Location of My Documents

You can change where My Documents reside – instead of residing on the local hard drive you can change My Documents to be saved to Y (this is typically helpful for faculty and staff). Students will always want to save to X or to Floppy A.

  1. Start – right-click My Documents
  2. Choose Properties
  3. Change the target to Y:\ (you could specify an existing folder if you like)
  4. Click OK


Although diskettes are finding their way out the door people still use them on a regular basis. Some diskette essentials you need to be familiar with: formatting, copying, and backing up.

Formatting a Diskette

When would you want to format a diskette – when you want to be sure the information is completely removed. Deleting does not remove a file from a diskette – a deleted file can be retrieved with special software.

  • Open My Computer
  • Place the diskette in the drive
  • Right-click on Floppy A:
  • Choose Format
    • From the Format options box make sure under Format options that Quick Format is NOT checked. If Quick Format is checked then the information can still be retrieved off the disk.
  • Click Start
  • When finished formatting – click Close.

Copying a Diskette

When would you want to copy a diskette – when you want an exact copy of what is on one disk on a second disk.

  • Open My Computer
  • Place the diskette in the drive
  • Right-click on Floppy A:
  • Choose Copy Disk
  • Click Start
  • You will be prompted to insert the original disk (source disk) into the drive – click OK when this is done. Clicking OK will begin the copying procedure.
  • When the computer has copied the information from the source disk it will prompt you to insert the destination disk. Remove the source disk, insert the destination disk and click OK.
  • Click Close when the copying process has finished – the green bar on the Copy Disk box will reach the end and disappear.

Backing-up Files

Files can be backed up a number of ways. You can copy files from one location to another location in the methods shown in this handout – copy and paste or copying a diskette are a few of the ways. There is also a back-up utility that comes with Windows XP. No matter the method used it is ALWAYS a task that should be completed on a consistent basis.

Using the Backup Utility

  • Go to Start – All Programs – Accessories – System Tools - Backup
  • Click Next
  • Make sure Back up files is selected – click Next
  • Select an option under “What do Back Up” – if you solely use My Documents on the C:/ to save your files choose My documents and settings.
  • Click Next
  • Choose a location to backup file – best choice would be your server drive (Y)
    • If using a drive other than A – click Browse and locate the desired location
  • Click Save
  • Click Next
  • Click Finish
    • There is an Advanced button if you want more options – for a one time back up click Finish.
    • To schedule a backup on a time frame click Advanced.
      • Select Normal – click Next
      • Click Next without choosing and option
      • Select to either append or replace (append will add the files on to the existing file – that would mean you could end up with multiple copies of one file, as well as a HUGE backup file) – replace will remove the latest backup and replace it with the current backup.
      • Click Next
      • Click Later to schedule
      • Name the backup – click Set Schedule
      • Use the drop-down below Schedule Task – select an option
      • Select a Start time
      • Click OK
  • Computer Basics