Naming a File

File names are no longer restricted to 8.3 as they use to be with earlier versions of Windows. You can now name a file with up to 250 characters. Most applications allow you to create a file and then name it as you save it. Although you can specify a file extension, you are better off if you let the application supply the extension and you supply the name. With 250 characters including spaces to play with in Windows 95/98/ME/XP, you can be pretty descriptive with your file name.

DOS and older versions of Windows used an 8.3 file naming convention meaning that you had 8 characters you could use in naming a file. A lot of people used the 3-character extension to allow them to name files a little better. This causes problems with file association which is a feature of Windows.

Windows 95/98/ME/XP extends the 8 characters you are free to use to 250 characters and allows you to use some special characters such as spaces in the name. It should no longer be necessary to use the 3-character extension. There are still some restrictions on what you can put into a file name. You should stay away from the following characters as they will cause problems for the system: \ / : * ? " < > |

As a matter of fact, Windows 95/98/ME/XP tries to hide the 3-character extension from view. Unless you really try, you won't see the extension. You can force Windows 95/98/ME/XP to show the extension if you really need to see it, but you're better off without it.

While we're on the subject of files, let's talk a little about where you want to put the files you create. You will put files somewhere unless you decide not to create anything on your computer. Every application has a default location where files are stored unless you change it. Most of the time, this default location is where the program you're running is stored. In other words, you have data and programs stored in the same place. This may seem convenient, but there are a couple of reasons not to do this. First, putting your data with your programs can make it difficult to locate your data when you want it. Second, sooner or later, you will want to back up your data. If your data is intermixed with the programs, it will be difficult to just back up the data and not the programs. If all your data is organized in one place, you always know where it is and it's easy to back up since you don't have to go looking for it. What I suggest is that you create a folder on your hard drive and put all your data files in that folder. It doesn't matter what you call this folder as long as you reserve it for your data files and don't store any programs in it. Some systems will have a folder called My Documents that can be used for this purpose. If this folder doesn't exist, you might create it or perhaps create one named Data. Now you have a place to put all those files you create.

It won't take too long before you start having difficulty locating files within this folder because of the number of files you are accumulating. You have to look through all the files to find the specific one you're looking for. Perhaps it would be a good idea to organize your files some. Perhaps some of your files relate to business while others are of a personal nature. How about creating a couple of lower level folders called Business and Personal. You could have more than just these two, and yours could have other names. Now you can quickly zero in on your business files or your personal files without having to worry about the other.

Your personal files might still get rather crowded though over a period of time. Let's assume you write one letter a week. By the end of the year, you would have some 52 letters stored in your Personal folder. This may not be too bad, but after two years, it might be a little difficult to locate a particular file. Suppose we create a folder in Personal for each year. We might have folders called 1997, 1998, etc. This might help, but if you create more files than just 52, this might still not be enough. You might want to have a further breakdown of your files. Perhaps you would want a folder for those letters you write to Uncle Harry and another one for Aunt Mary.

Obviously the names you pick are purely up to you and you will probably want more of a breakdown than this, but your Data structure might look something like this:

Data structure

 Hughes Glantzberg

Last Revised: 03/03/2005

Created by
The PC Help Desk
(Hughes Glantzberg)