As I’ve written earlier in my story of files losses and methods to prevent this, I’ve tried to keep all possible information throughout the time and space. But soon I understood this information is not homogeneous and different kinds of files differ significantly in the manner they should be handled.
So I decided to make some background classification and prioritizing of files I have and I work with. Well, actually, it was not done strictly before my researches, as science requires, but evaluated during this research. But who cares.
Classes of information are formed on how I do handle it, how I do access or modify it, and how I do share or do not share it. Priorities are subjectively weighted based on the cost of the information loss and leak, and these costs include both money and torments.
Here they are:
- Photo archives — big files (2-5 MB each), collected in folders by theme or event, with time stamp in the folder name; folders are usually named as “YYYY-MM-DD – Event Name”. The files are never modified themselves, and are rarely accessed for viewing. Though they are still significant as a memory and must be kept.
- Operational documents — small and large sized, of all possible types including photos (usually documentary rather than staged), accessed both for reading and writing often and often. They should be accessible fast and easily from each and every device I use, from each and every point of the world.
- Source codes — usually a lot of tiny files in per-project folder, written with use of different languages and platforms. All file changes must be logged; files must be versioned and all previous version should be available. In some cases it is preferred to have public access for reading or even for co-working with files on a per-project basis. In other cases, the projects are frozen and are not developed anymore (source codes from university courses, exams, degree works, etc).
- Passwords — includes web site password, SSH keys, bank certificates, software licenses and serials (honestly bought). Very sensitive and secret information. Can not be trusted to anybody, since can compromise myself and all my contacts (hello to US Department of State & Ko).
- System backups — huge files 10-30 GB each, but they are made rarely on a regular basis. Though any system can be reinstalled from scratch, this is a hard work to configure everything later. And it is much easier to have a backup with all settings and files ready.
- Media archives — either downloaded or bought music, movies, games, so on. They are big, large, huge. But they can be re-downloaded, re-digitized or re-bought again for a moderate price. So there is no reason to spent money for keeping them.
- Exchange information — though I already have an original copy, sometimes I have to make slightly modified version (with some parts being cut or redacted). And usually I store these files for a while for the case if I will be ought to re-sent them — to avoid cutting and redacting them again. Or just when I wear such an information from one place to another on some medium.
Seems this is all, complete and comprehensive classification of information I work with. I like the number of 7 — people say it is best suited for human mind to perceive.
Here are the costs for information loss, by category:
- Photo archives — 10
- Operational documents — 9
- Source codes — 8
- Passwords — 3
- System backups — 3
- Media archives — 2
- Exchange information — 1
And here are the costs for information leak, by category:
- Passwords — 10
- System backups — 10
- Operational documents — 9
- Exchange information — 5
- Photo archives — 5
- Source codes — 1
- Media archives — 0
You may ask me why do I rate passwords with priority of loss equal to 3, not 10. The answer is simple: if I’ll loose my passwords, I can recover them. This will be a headache, of course, but not a disaster. Same for system disk: I can reinstall it from scratch. It’s not to be able to compare with passwords or disk images leak — this will be a nightmare to change all the passwords on all the services and to reset all the cookies and other sensitive identifying information.
Using these categories and priorities I do organize my files, their backing up and encryption. Yes, encryption is a significant part of how to organize your files, and I will address this subject too.