Way too many "My Documents" folders!!


M

Mel

I have several folders that have duplicate folder structures in them.
Which ones can I delete and not do any damage?

I am the administrator, and I set up an administrator account for me,
Mel. I set up a limited account for my wife, Flossy. The rest of
the folders just appeared.

When I put something in one folder, sometimes it shows up in other
folders too, sometimes not. This is confusing and randomly redundant.
When I want to save a video, it could show up in as many as TEN
places!!!

The computer is an HP m7250n desktop with XP Media Center 2005.

I want the minimal amount of folders necessary to keep track of my
documents. Would Mel's Documents, Flossy's Documents, and Shared
Documents be enough? If so, what do I do to set up the file structure
to accomplish this?

If the file structure has to be this way (ugh) which folders can I use
for storing .doc and .jpg and .mpg files to make sure I am putting the
files in the REAL folders?

Since I set up an account for me (Mel) as the administrator, why do I
have to have an account named Administrator?

The file structure (for documents/settings) in Windows Explorer
currently looks like this:

Desktop
My Documents
My DVDs
My Music
My Pictures
My Videos
My Computer
HP_Pavilion C:
Document and Settings
Administrator
Administrator's Documents
Administrator's Music
Administrator's Videos
My Pictures
All Users
Shared Documents
Recorded TV
Shared Music
Shared Pictures
Shared Video
Default Users
Administrator's Documents
Administrator's Music
Administrator's Videos
My Pictures
HP Administrator
My Documents
My DVDs
My Music
My Pictures
My Videos
Flossy
Flossy's Documents
Administrator's Videos
Flossy's Music
Flossy's Pictures
Shared Documents
Recorded TV
Shared Music
Shared Pictures
Shared Video
Mel's Documents
My DVDs
My Music
My Pictures
My Videos
Flossy's Documents
Administrator's Videos
Flossy's Music
Flossy's Pictures
My Network Places
Shared Documents on Gateway
Shared Documents on Dell
Shared Documents on MediaCenter
Recorded TV
Shared Music
Shared Pictures
Shared Video


Thanks for any help!
 
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Y

Yves Leclerc

Administrator
All Users
Default Users

These are standard with XP and should not be renamed/ Removed.

Administrator --> refers to the special "hidden" Administrator account
All Users ---> Central place where"common" files/programs are installed.
Important for installing software for "All users."
Default Users --> Central place for 'Default Users"


HP Administrator --> Instaleld and set up by HP themselves.
 
M

Malke

Mel wrote:

Please see my comments inline.

Your system is set up correctly. Many of those folders are shortcuts and
are not duplicates. See below for an explanation of what the items
really are.
I have several folders that have duplicate folder structures in them.
Which ones can I delete and not do any damage?

I am the administrator, and I set up an administrator account for me,
Mel. I set up a limited account for my wife, Flossy. The rest of
the folders just appeared.

When I put something in one folder, sometimes it shows up in other
folders too, sometimes not. This is confusing and randomly redundant.
When I want to save a video, it could show up in as many as TEN
places!!!

I think "TEN" is probably a bit of an exaggeration, hmmm?
If the file structure has to be this way (ugh) which folders can I use
for storing .doc and .jpg and .mpg files to make sure I am putting the
files in the REAL folders?

See below for the explanation.
Since I set up an account for me (Mel) as the administrator, why do I
have to have an account named Administrator?

XP is a multi-user operating system, no matter if only one person is
using it. In all multi-user operating systems - NT, Win2k, XP, Unix,
Linux, Mac OSX - there is the one built-in account that is "god" on the
system. In Windows terminology, that is "Administrator". In the *nix
world, it is "root". This is a necessary account and is not normally
used in everyday work. You cannot delete the built-in Administrator
account nor would you ever want to.

Here is the explanation of what you really have:

My Computer - represents your entire computer, showing drives and shared
folders.

HP_Pavilion C: - your hard drive.

Document and Settings - The "container" for all user settings. Each user
will have [username] Documents, Music, Videos, My Pictures.

Administrator - Built-in account - Leave alone! Do not use! Do not worry
about it!

All Users - Section where items common to all users go. In a multi-user
operating system, users have separate accounts. This is the place where
if you want to share files with all the other users on the system you
would put those files. You don't ever have to use those folders but
they need to be there. This is where programs you install that are
meant to be installed for all users put settings. All the "Shared
Documents" type of folders you see at the root of C:\ are shortcuts to
the shared folders in here. Leave them alone!

Default Users - This is the template from which new user accounts are
made. You will never put anything in any of those folders but they are
needed to create new users. In Linux we use "skel" ("skeleton" - get
it?). In Windows, the less-colorful term "Default User" is used. Leave
it alone!

HP Administrator - This is the generic user created by HP when
installing the operating system. After all, HP doesn't know who is
going to buy the computer. If you aren't using the "HP Administrator"
user account, you can delete it from the User Accounts applet in
Control Panel. Other OEM's like Dell and Sony use terms like "Owner".
It means the same thing. It is not the same account as "Administrator".

My Network Places - This is a graphical representation of other
computers on the network and any shared network resources. If you don't
have other computers, you can remove the Network Places icon from the
Desktop using the Control Panel Display>Desktop>Customize Desktop
function. Leave the folder alone!

For your account and for your wife's, put an icon for My Documents on
the Desktop by using the Customize Desktop function as described above.
Inside each user's My Documents is My Music, My Pictures, etc. Save
your things there. They will be saved in *one* place. If you wish to
share a file with Flossy, you can copy it to one of the Shared
Documents folders. Now it will be in *two* places. If the Shared
Documents folders confuse you or you don't work that way, don't use
them. But leave them alone!

I hope this has made the structure of a multi-user operating system a
little more clear to you.

Malke
 
R

Rock

Mel wrote:

Please see my comments inline.

Your system is set up correctly. Many of those folders are shortcuts and
are not duplicates. See below for an explanation of what the items
really are.
I have several folders that have duplicate folder structures in them.
Which ones can I delete and not do any damage?

I am the administrator, and I set up an administrator account for me,
Mel. I set up a limited account for my wife, Flossy. The rest of
the folders just appeared.

When I put something in one folder, sometimes it shows up in other
folders too, sometimes not. This is confusing and randomly redundant.
When I want to save a video, it could show up in as many as TEN
places!!!

I think "TEN" is probably a bit of an exaggeration, hmmm?
If the file structure has to be this way (ugh) which folders can I use
for storing .doc and .jpg and .mpg files to make sure I am putting the
files in the REAL folders?

See below for the explanation.
Since I set up an account for me (Mel) as the administrator, why do I
have to have an account named Administrator?

XP is a multi-user operating system, no matter if only one person is
using it. In all multi-user operating systems - NT, Win2k, XP, Unix,
Linux, Mac OSX - there is the one built-in account that is "god" on the
system. In Windows terminology, that is "Administrator". In the *nix
world, it is "root". This is a necessary account and is not normally
used in everyday work. You cannot delete the built-in Administrator
account nor would you ever want to.

Here is the explanation of what you really have:

My Computer - represents your entire computer, showing drives and shared
folders.

HP_Pavilion C: - your hard drive.

Document and Settings - The "container" for all user settings. Each user
will have [username] Documents, Music, Videos, My Pictures.

Administrator - Built-in account - Leave alone! Do not use! Do not worry
about it!

All Users - Section where items common to all users go. In a multi-user
operating system, users have separate accounts. This is the place where
if you want to share files with all the other users on the system you
would put those files. You don't ever have to use those folders but
they need to be there. This is where programs you install that are
meant to be installed for all users put settings. All the "Shared
Documents" type of folders you see at the root of C:\ are shortcuts to
the shared folders in here. Leave them alone!

Default Users - This is the template from which new user accounts are
made. You will never put anything in any of those folders but they are
needed to create new users. In Linux we use "skel" ("skeleton" - get
it?). In Windows, the less-colorful term "Default User" is used. Leave
it alone!

HP Administrator - This is the generic user created by HP when
installing the operating system. After all, HP doesn't know who is
going to buy the computer. If you aren't using the "HP Administrator"
user account, you can delete it from the User Accounts applet in
Control Panel. Other OEM's like Dell and Sony use terms like "Owner".
It means the same thing. It is not the same account as "Administrator".

My Network Places - This is a graphical representation of other
computers on the network and any shared network resources. If you don't
have other computers, you can remove the Network Places icon from the
Desktop using the Control Panel Display>Desktop>Customize Desktop
function. Leave the folder alone!

For your account and for your wife's, put an icon for My Documents on
the Desktop by using the Customize Desktop function as described above.
Inside each user's My Documents is My Music, My Pictures, etc. Save
your things there. They will be saved in *one* place. If you wish to
share a file with Flossy, you can copy it to one of the Shared
Documents folders. Now it will be in *two* places. If the Shared
Documents folders confuse you or you don't work that way, don't use
them. But leave them alone!

I hope this has made the structure of a multi-user operating system a
little more clear to you.

Malke
--
Elephant Boy Computers
www.elephantboycomputers.com
"Don't Panic!"
MS-MVP Windows - Shell/User


Great post Malke.
 
G

Guest

Rock said:
Great post Malke.

I'll second that.

Meanwhile I do have to sympathise that all these 'My This' 'My That' and 'My
Other Thing' folders that sprout like mushrooms within My Documents are
extremely confusing.

For example, if I wrote a review on a computer, _why_ would I want to put
the write-up and the photos I took in two entirely-unrelated places? That
would be silly, and would just lead to one or other being mislaid.

Surely I would put them in the SAME folder, or maybe into a 'pics' folder
under the 'XZ3000 Review' folder I'd created to hold the document. If I then
burn a disc of the review material, do I want that to be stored under 'My
DVDS' instead of in the review's own folder? Of course I don't! That again
would be silly, and would only make it hard to find.. In fact if I did so,
I'd probably forget I'd already made an .iso and make a second one, wasting a
large chunk of space.

Basically this type of segregated folder-structure is highly nonfunctional,
if you look at most office computers it's never used anyway. We'd be
better-off without it.
 
R

Rock

Ian said:
I'll second that.

Meanwhile I do have to sympathise that all these 'My This' 'My That' and
'My
Other Thing' folders that sprout like mushrooms within My Documents are
extremely confusing.

Basically this type of segregated folder-structure is highly
nonfunctional,
if you look at most office computers it's never used anyway. We'd be
better-off without it.

Well that isn't going to happen.
 
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M

Malke

Ian said:
I'll second that.

Meanwhile I do have to sympathise that all these 'My This' 'My That'
and 'My Other Thing' folders that sprout like mushrooms within My
Documents are extremely confusing.

For example, if I wrote a review on a computer, _why_ would I want to
put the write-up and the photos I took in two entirely-unrelated
places? That would be silly, and would just lead to one or other being
mislaid.

Surely I would put them in the SAME folder, or maybe into a 'pics'
folder
under the 'XZ3000 Review' folder I'd created to hold the document. If
I then burn a disc of the review material, do I want that to be stored
under 'My
DVDS' instead of in the review's own folder? Of course I don't! That
again would be silly, and would only make it hard to find.. In fact if
I did so, I'd probably forget I'd already made an .iso and make a
second one, wasting a large chunk of space.

Basically this type of segregated folder-structure is highly
nonfunctional, if you look at most office computers it's never used
anyway. We'd be better-off without it.

But of course you don't have to use it. I don't use My Documents on any
of my Windows machines except for the laptop (which is really a school
laptop for my son so it doesn't count). I always put in second hard
drives and save things in a way that is easy to back up and logical to
the user.

In a business environment, you shouldn't be saving anything locally
anyway.

And of course on my main machines I always put /home on a second hard
drive or in the case of the laptop, a separate partition.

So just because Windows comes with "My Whatever" doesn't mean you have
to use it. But that isn't what the OP was asking about. ;-)

Malke
 
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C

cquirke (MVP Windows shell/user)

:
Meanwhile I do have to sympathise that all these 'My This' 'My That'
and 'My Other Thing' folders that sprout like mushrooms within My
Documents are extremely confusing.
[/QUOTE]

It doesn't help when Windows plays silly-buggers with the names. I'd
rather see exactly what the file system is, rather than some "easy"
overlay that hides this essential truth.

Folks may want to de-bulk the data set so that it can be backed up
easily, and that's a good reason to locate bulky Pictures, Music and
Videos out of the "Documents".

Folks may also want to restore their data backups with confidence
after an unexplained melt-down, without the fear that malware will be
brought back into the system that way.

This objective is NOT served by:
- advising users to dump .EXE in "My Docs" to block SR effects
- using "My Docs" as the duhfault location for IE downloads
- auto-running code (macros) in what are supposed to be "data" files
- dumping "My Received Files" (MS Messenger) in the data set
- MSN Messenger as above + you can't change this until "logged in"

The point we're making is that different folks want to manage content
in different ways, and it's damn annoying to have Windows hard-coding
particular nesting, names etc. into the system.
But of course you don't have to use it.

Actually, you do - because apps take their cues from these shell
locations, and malware can find and use them too. Some apps are
hard-coded to do this, e.g. The Sims 2 will dump a CDR's worth of game
data in "My Docs" so your "real" 20M of data won't fit on a 128M USB
stick anymore - unless you sift through your files one at a time, etc.

It's also nearly impossible to preset the "Default User" profile
prototype so that all new user accounts will start off using your
choice of locations (as well as web cache size, UI settings, etc.).
I don't use My Documents on any of my Windows machines
except for the laptop (which is really a school laptop for my son
so it doesn't count).

Ask your son whether it "counts" or not :)
I always put in second hard drives and save things in a way
that is easy to back up and logical to the user.

Sure, so do I - but it involves smashing one's head against the MS
duhfaults, and I've not found an easy way to apply these settings to
the new account prototype. So every time someone creates a new user
account, all the settings etc. have to be done again, plus installed
apps will have already derived their own data paths from the
duhfaults. In practice, I don't use multiple accounts at ALL.
In a business environment, you shouldn't be saving anything locally
anyway.

Not all businesses subscribe to the "put everything on the server then
pay network admin a fortune in case we lose access to the lot" model,
and nor should they. Over a certain size, "pro IT" network and user
admin makes sense, but below that, it may be a bad fit.

For example, if you have 10 PCs looking up a central database, you may
as well go server-centric because if they can't access that database,
no work can get done. The dependency's already there, anyway.

But for another example, consider 10 professionals who each work on
their own projects. Why should this data be centralized in a single
point of failure, potentially making it impossible for anyone to do
any work if it falls over? I'd rather use the network to share
printers and Internet access, facilitate messaging between desks, and
act as a centralized backup repository - but keep data on the PCs.
And of course on my main machines I always put /home on a second hard
drive or in the case of the laptop, a separate partition.

Sure. The systems I build do not routinely have extra HDs (it's not
that cost-effective) but do partition the single HD for speed and
survivability. I'd want all bloated data stores on E:, all incoming
material in a "suspect" subtree on E:, and all genuine (i.e.
user-created) small data on D:, and no data on C: at all.

But try and bash that clue into XP, and have it applied automatically
to the new user accounts you might create? Tricky...
So just because Windows comes with "My Whatever" doesn't mean you have
to use it. But that isn't what the OP was asking about. ;-)

As above. Too many apps derive their own data path s from these shell
locations for comfort... we need a proper end-user UI to control these
theings, both for existing accounts and to pre-set new ones.

From what I see of Vista, this is NOT getting better - half the time
the real location is hidden behind various shortcut trickeries.


------------ ----- --- -- - - - -
Drugs are usually safe. Inject? (Y/n)
 

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