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Organize files and folders perfectly – so it’ll work

In the car, the engine and trunk are, of course, separated, but almost all Windows PCs have system and personal files flying wildly apart. Here you will learn how to organize your data on the hard drive – equally on a new computer or one that has been running for a long time.

In addition, part of the specified storage capacity is usually available to the user. This is related to the way the hardware manufacturers ship their computers with Windows. Because the operating system is by no means immediately ready for use when it is started up for the first time, but must first be extracted and set up from a special hard disk area. Such a recovery partition seems reasonable because the computer can be rebuilt from it later, but it has two disadvantages: First, it occupies valuable storage space on SSDs. Second, after installing numerous programs and personal adjustments, you hardly want to reset your computer to its factory settings and then start over. There are smarter solutions for this, should the computer ever stop running.

All of this can be changed with simple interventions. A second partition not only ensures order and clarity on the hard disk, it also makes it easier to separate the system files from the personal files. As a result, the operating system is easier to maintain and can be reset without any risk to your individual content, should that ever be necessary. Because you do not need the hidden recovery partition for this, you can delete it later with a clear conscience and use the free space more effectively.

Professional tricks:

So you can find any file instantly

Second partition separates system data from personal data

The partitioning tool shows a typical initial configuration of the hard drive: first two control partitions, including the large “C:” partition and the recovery area.

Our test computer for this workshop is ideal: Windows shows only one partition labeled “OS (C :)”, on which the manufacturer has packed everything. To separate personal data such as photos, documents and the like from the “impersonal” (Windows, software), create a second partition.

To do this, install and start Minitool Partition Wizard by clicking on “Run application” in the overview window after setup. The tool then displays a list of all partitions, including, in addition to the “C:” main partition, at least two small control partitions and, as a rule, the recovery area that was also not previously visible.

First click with the right mouse button on the “C:” partition, then select “Move / Resize” in the context menu, reduce it to the desired size using the right (!) Handle of the slider and confirm with “OK”. Then right-click on the new area labeled “Not ordered” and continue with “Create”. Type in the data as the partition name, accept the remaining default settings, click on “OK”, and back in the main window on “Apply -› Yes – ›Restart now”. Now the PC repartitions the data carrier as desired and then boots Windows again as usual. Two partitions then appear in Explorer, including the new “Data” area.

Windows libraries make everyday data management easier

The Windows libraries ensure that the operating system and programs automatically store your personal data on the correct partition.

The purpose of the second partition is to store your personal data on it and thus separate it from the system files. But the second part of the hard disk is still empty, everything is still on “C:”. To change this, move the libraries in which the operating system and the programs store your user data to the data partition. In this way, you can move existing content and save all future content correctly.

That’s how it’s done:

In Windows Explorer, right-click on one of the four important libraries: pictures, documents, music, videos. Use the “Properties” in the context menu to switch to the “Path” tab, press the “Move” button, then create the new “My Documents” folder including subfolders (such as “Images” for the first library) on the data hard disk and then select it with “Select folder -› Apply – ›Yes -› OK “as new library path.

Do the same with the other three libraries. You can see that Windows now manages the four subdirectories in “My Documents” on the data partition as libraries and not as ordinary folders by the new symbols that have replaced the previous yellow hanging files.

Finally, for programs that store user data independently of the library, change their default storage directories to the data partition.

New or additional hard drive

For reasons of space, it is usually not possible to install a second internal data medium in notebooks. With ordinary desktop PCs, the space is mostly there, but free SATA connections are sometimes missing, especially with cheap computers. Then you have to think about something.

First, to replace a hard drive: If the space on the previous data carrier is no longer sufficient and the computer does not have an additional slot, you can replace the old one with a new hard drive – naturally with a fast SSD. Gone are the days when you had to limit yourself to a small system data carrier for cost reasons: SSDs with one and two TB capacity currently cost around EUR 100 and EUR 200, respectively. That is enough for everyday user data including photo collection.

While there is little to consider when buying a 2.5-inch SSD, the situation is different with the modern, small M.2 format. M.2 uses both SATA and the “Non-Volatile Memory Express” protocol (NVMe). It connects SSDs via PCI Express. Because SATA and NVMe are not compatible with each other, the flash memory and motherboard must use the same protocol. How to find out the right type M.2 SSD for your PC is explained our online guide. The system move from the previous to the new SSD is done with Drive Clone 11 If you would like to connect another data carrier to the desktop PC without an additional SATA socket, the previously unused M.2 slot or another SATA-PCI-Express adapter (PCIe) can be used in one free PCIe slot (from around 15 euros).

You have to look closely at M.2 SSDs to recognize the different protocols (NVMe and SATA) as well as the cutouts (“keys”) on the right in the connector strip.

Back up your personal content and system data regularly

Aomei Backupper backs up data based on files and directories (highlighted in blue) as well as entire partitions and hard disks, namely via system, hard disk or partition backup.

Reinstalling Windows and all software, if necessary, and setting up the system again as before, is a bit tedious, but ultimately without problems. It is different with your personal files, i.e. photos, emails, saved correspondence and so on. Only you have this data, which is why you should back it up regularly, for example with Aomei Backupper. At the beginning, we noticed that resetting a computer to the delivery state is by no means optimal. It is better to create an image that backs up the system partition as a status quo with all settings and the installed software. If you have created such an image of your (perfectly) running computer, you can restore this state at any time without having to worry about the cause of the error.

Because the entire partition is overwritten – unlike a repair – and thus all interim errors – are deleted, the separation of your personal data from the system data via two partitions is essential. After all, you don’t want to overwrite newer personal data with old ones and thereby delete them.

The Macrium Reflect image tool backs up the system partition (above) with all settings and programs compressed on another partition or hard drive (left).

Such a system image can be done with Aomei Backupper or with Macrium Reflect Free create and play back.

Tutorial:

This makes backup easy and convenient

A second hard drive and some rework are required

A network hard drive (left) or an external data carrier connected via USB is particularly suitable as a backup medium for backing up important data.

Of course, data and system backups only make sense if they are created consistently. For this reason, they belong on a second, physically separate data carrier. For notebooks with mostly just one hard disk, external or network drives are available for storage, in desktop PCs you can usually install an additional hard disk. Read tips for replacing an SSD data carrier and installing a second hard drive in the box above.

After all, perfect data organization involves deleting unnecessary system files: You can do this with the “cleanmgr” command in the Windows execution line. You can delete other memory eaters and duplicate files using Windirstat and All dup. If you have created a current system image, you can also delete the recovery options and points in the “System Restore” and use the Minitool Partition Wizard to delete the hidden recovery partition. It is important to delete only the recovery partition and not the other control partitions in front of the Windows drive, which are also not visible in Windows Explorer!

Know-how:

Is your PC set up correctly for SSD operation?

Find everything instantly with the desktop search

After you have organized the data according to your wishes, please check the desktop search and adjust it if necessary so that Windows immediately shows the file contents you are looking for. To do this, click with the mouse in the combined search and execute field at the bottom of the task bar and in the following window on the three dots at the top right and “Indexing options”. Change the default from “Classic” to “Advanced” and scroll down to the link “Advanced search index settings”. In the “Change” button, you can record the directories in which you save your personal data. Because you usually search for content in it.

Microsoft has improved Windows 10’s local search, but for perfect results on your PC, you should check and adjust the indexing options.

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