Digital File Management: The Good Mattress Syndrome

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From the mixed up files of Mrs. Basil E. Windows User

For almost everyone, file management is a die hard reality of technology. Most of us live and die by collections of “things” on our daily driver tools — our home computers, phones, laptops, workstations, tablets, cameras … pretty much every electronic device you own requires the transfer and manipulation.

So why is file management marginalized and ignored by so many people? You may be reading this now — trying to figure out what the heck I’m talking about.

It is the “good mattress” syndrome.

When I was in my youth, my new (and second) wife wanted to purchase a new mattress. Not just any mattress … a $2000 mattress.

There was a lot of discussion and such and in the end we negotiated down to a $1300 mattress — and that was under protest by me. It wasn’t until later that I realized that a good mattress isn’t just a luxury item.

It was a necessity.

After all, you spend HOW much of you life on that mattress? If you’re part of the national average of sleeping eight hours a day — that roughly translates into one-third of your life.

One-third of your life is spent on that mattress. Why on earth would you want anything other than the very best? So much hinges on a good night’s sleep — to say nothing of your back and neck … how can you go for a Wal-mart bargain mattress when so much is on the line?

But, people do. They buy cheap ass mattresses for the same reason I did. We just didn’t realize how important it was.

Right, back to file management; the mattress of digital devices. Something you probably do at least a little every day across lots of devices.

The first thing to remember is that file management takes many forms. There are obvious ones — like that 20 year MP3 collection you constantly curate, sort and rename in an effort to achieve the perfect set or even the 1500 pictures you shot during your trip to Disneyworld (including the DLSR, the point and shoot you gave the kids and the phone your wife used to take photos of you waiting in four hour lines). Maybe you’re a self-hosted media buff; your Plex server is second to none — with a dozen terabytes of your ripped movies and TV shows.

But there are less obvious forms of file management tasks. Perhaps you develop web pages and your web hosts’ FTP server is a close and dear friend of yours. Maybe you spend a lot of time accessing cloud storage (my own Google Drive is a complete mess at this point) as a teacher who uses Dropbox to collaborate lesson planning with other instructors.

Yes, file management is all around us. The mattress of technology — yet so many of us choose to use terrible tools to handle our files. Terrible products like Windows File Explorer. Maybe you have some basic file manager on your phone or tablet. If you’re still using the tools provided by cloud hosts, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice.

The bottom line is — file managers don’t have to suck … and you don’t often need twenty different tools.

You just need one good one. Unfortunately, good ones aren’t free.

For Windows, there are several tools that can help you — although I only recommend one personally; that is Directory Opus. It is the Swiss army knife of Windows applications and you may find out that it can augment and even replace more than just file management. It is the first program loaded on any copy of Windows installed..

Read my review of an older version of Directory Opus. If for some reason you can’t see your way clear to actually spend money — you can always try Total Commander.

If you’re using Android on your tablet, Android TV or mobile phone — there is really only one great choice; X-Plore File Manager. Most of the features are free — but you will have to “donate” to get some of the higher level stuff. I’ve donated four times already — because it is as close to Directory Opus on a cell phone as you can get. The cloud and network integration is particularly amazing.

Read my review of X-Plore File Manager — then try it yourself.

If you are an iOS user on phone or tablet, I can’t be of much help to you. However — this article may prove useful in guiding you to file management nirvana. Along with iOS, you may be a Mac user too. Again, not much I can do for you, except point you along to this article featuring what looks to be some very capable management tools.

Got questions on how great file management can help make you more efficient and a happier person? Leave your questions and comments!

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I write, blog, record and review anything that interests me — including humanity, parenting, gizmos & gadgets, video games and media.

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