tl;dr Is there any good software out there to help me organize my files? I have a ton!
I want to be able to organize my files once and for all. I have 20 years of files kicking around, some organized by date, some by type, some by whatever project I happen to be doing, etc. It's a big mess.
I have many types of files. Among them, Pictures, Videos, Music, downloaded binaries of many flavors, Visual Studio projects, perl, Java, web projects, word docs, excel, ODTs, church things, Scout things, craft project files, etc. The list goes on and on. At first I tried to organize based on "Phases" of my life:
- Before High School
- High School
- Associates Degree College
- Bachelors Degree University
- Getting Married
- Master's Degree University
- Having kids
This doesn't work well enough. Having parallel structures in my High School folder for on-the-side projects I continued in college seems silly. So I tried by year:
It was too arbitrary and hard to find things. Was that 2003 or 2004? I can't recall...
So I tried
- DC Trip
- Project XYZ
- Life in Boston
- Life in New York
- Yellowstone Adventure
- Programming Projects
Still didn't get it all, and I ended up with a lot of "Misc" folders with unrelated items in them. Not helpful.
There has to be a better way.
What I decided is that I need to be able to organize my files using more than one folder hierarchy, but managed so there is no duplication where not needed.
What I mean is I would like to be able to place a file in a directory hierarchy structure such as:
- docs/pics/2008/Niagara Falls Trip/blah.jpg...
- docs/pics/2008/Fishing in Florida/blah.jpg...
- docs/pics/2011/Fishing in Maine/blah.jpg...
- docs/pics/2010/XRays of my broken leg/blah.jpg...
and I would also like to navigate to these paths:
- docs/personal/medical/XRays of my broken leg/blah.jpg...
- docs/trips/pics/Niagara Falls/blah.jpg...
And get the same files. I don't want to duplicate the files, I want to have the folders I navigate to get to them be pointers to their actual location, seamlessly. (I know I could make Windows Shortcuts for them, but that's a tedious pain...) Basically, I want to be able to organize my files in multiple categories, have only one copy of them, but be able to find them via multiple directory traversals. (I understand I will have to do the initial work to categorize things, that's not the problem.)
Another example to cement the concept:
Another view of these same files would be:
Again, I understand I would have to do the initial filing of all these things myself. I'm just looking to see if there is a software product out there that can help me organize my files with multiple views of the same data. Does such a software product exist?
- My data needs to be mine and stay private
- Windows would be the best platform, but I'm not averse to Linux
- Sub $1000 USD for software
- Ability to backup the whole structure is needed
- My hope is to have this tightly integrated with Windows Explorer such that I can just use Windows Explorer. Also wouldn't hurt if the command line functioned in this fashion as well.
I've come across a phrase I didn't know before, and this may help: Faceted Search is basically what I want to do, but to do the searching, I want to traverse directories via Windows Explorer. Maybe it's not the right term, but it seems close to me.