Data Devices galore!

As you all know – or at least some of you know – I’m working my way through my digital life.

After having deleted 35 360 e-mails in February, I decided to put the e-mail decluttering on hold for the month of March.

At the beginning of the year I wrote a little piece about ALL the data I have 😦 Stored on 8 external hard drive’s, 11 memory sticks, Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud, computers etc.

Since a lot of the data are backups and backups of backups… I know a lot of the information is the same.

I needed a game plan: So I decided to put most of the data onto one hard drive. I’m thinking that this might make it easier to consolidate and find duplicates.

And this is what I did earlier this month. I consolidated data from all my memory sticks, 6 of my external hard drives + my Dropbox and iCloud photo storage.

This is what I ended up with – one drive with:

Oh boy! That’s 1,001,766 files and 2,20 TB of data – and that isn’t even everything!!!! I think I need to lie down :-/

You might notice I only consolidated 6 out of 8 hard drives.. the reason?

  • One of the extra hard drive which has about 201 774 files and 95 Gb of data – will in it’s entirely be deleted – so no reason to add it to everything else 😉
  • The other one has my 2 computers Factory Resets + Image backup from when I installed windows 10. So these files will stay… this is non generational as I will need them if anything (God forbid) should happen to my computers.

Over the last couple of weeks.. Iv’e been chugging along, deleting a little here and there… and I’m currently at:

That’ s 600 GB and 330 748 files deleted so far 🙂 But as you can see.. I have a long way yet to go, before I’m done (sad face).

At this pace it might be months before I’m done.. but hey! This is my ONE big project this year, to get my digital life somewhat in check 😉

How are you dealing with your digital life?

Digital Declutter – February

It’s time for another digital update. 

I know I’ve been a bit MIA lately… but as some of you know.. I have limited time I can sit by my PC (health reasons). So guess what! My allotted computer time has been spent roaming through my digital clutter.

I have mentioned before that I have a shit load (pardon the french) of data to sort through. There are music, videos, documents, e-mails, bookmarks, software… you name it, I’ve got it.

Three weeks ago I decided to tackle some of the mountains of e-mails I have lurking around.

You see, not only do I have a lot of e-mail hanging around in my daily used e-mail accounts. But I also have a bunch of backups. Backups going back to when I first started using e-mails in the early 1990s. Not only do I have backups of my personal e-mail accounts, but I also have a few backups from my work mail account (as I had a bit of personal stuff going into my work mail).

Believe or not – my last count wielded about 34 backups equaling 12,8 GB of data. Yeah, that read tens of thousands of e-mail (probably more like around hundred thousand e-mails)

A lot of the backup files has the same e-mails… mostly because I did a poor job at deleting old backups when I made new ones 😦

I know there are software out there, that will let me consolidate and find duplicates. But I don’t have any of this type of software on my computer, so I’m going about it the old fashion way.

I use Microsoft Outlook as my main e-mail program – and one of the finesses of that program, is that I can open old Microsoft Outlook backups (.pst files) within the program. Opening a .pst file as opposed to importing it.. means the file ads itself as a separate mail “account”. I like this because I can work on the attached file without mixing everything with my current daily e-mails.

Example of added files

To keep some sort of control this is how my process is:

I started out adding one file (File no 1) – cleaned the heck out of it (from 6687 down to 756).

Then I added a new file (File no 2) – cleaned that one down to what I wanted to keep. Then, since I knew some of the e-mail in file no 2, was the same as I already had in file no 1, I had to find a way to easily find the duplicates.

To find my duplicates – I do the following in the file I’m currently cleaning (e.g. File 2)

  • I mark all e-mails as unread
  • I mark all e-mails with a category color (red or blue or green….)
  • I change font color on unread e-mails to the color red.
    This is how to do that; Go to  View, View settings, Conditional formatting, “choose color/font style for your unread e-mails”, Click OK, and OK again.  While you are still in the same view – go to Change View, Apply current view to other mail folders, Mark the outlook file(s) you want this to apply for, Mark of “Apply view to subfolders”, and Click OK – and presto all unread email is now the color and font style of your choice 🙂

When all the e-mail left in File no 2 was marked with the color of red and with a category color, I moved the e-mails from File no 2 to File no 1.

Since a lot of my e-mails was already organized in a folder structure, I moved it to the equivalent folder in File 1.  Then all I needed to do was go to the respective folders, sorted it according to date, and I could easily compare File 2 mails with File 1 mails as File 2 mails was the color of red and marked with a category color. The duplicates then was deleted.

As you can see, it’s easy to find the duplicates according to e-mail topic and date.

I’m using File no 1 as my default catchall, and as I’m going through and “nulling” out mailboxes, I am moving the keepers (well at least the current keepers), to File no 1 for comparison. Since not all e-mails are duplicates, File no 1 is slowly growing in size. When I am done going through all the other backups and extra mailboxes, I will perform a final cleanup of File no 1 to get rid of the “trash”.

Decluttered e-mails:

Now that I’ve semi explained my process – it’s time to get back to how I’ve been doing with my e-mail decluttering:

  • 14.02.18 – To ease into it I started with my G-mail account (which was in desperate need of decluttering) – deleted 2421
  • 17.02.18 – 20.02.18 – Outlook file no 1 – From 6687 to 756 = 5931 (this is my default move and compare file)
  • 20.02.18 – 21.02.18 – Outlook file no 2 – From 6786 to 0 = 6786
  • 21.02.18 – 24.02.18 – Outlook file no 3 – From 5166 to 0 = 5166
  • 24.02.18 – 24.02.18 – Outlook file no 4 – From 377 to 0 = 377
  • 24.02.18 – 24.02.18 – Outlook file no 5 – From 238 to 0 = 238
  • 24.02.18 – 24.02.18 – Outlook file no 6 – From 1707 to 1121 = 586 (really, really old stuff – I’ll leave the rest for later)
  • 25.02.18 – 25.02.18 – Outlook file no 7 – From 441 to 0 = 441
  • 25.02.18 – 25.02.18 – Outlook file no 8 – From 1464 to 0 = 1464
  • 25.02.18 – 27.02.18 – Outlook file no 9 – From 7568 to 0 = 7568
  • 27.02.18 – 27.02.18 – Outlook file no 10 – From 550 to 0 = 550
  • 27.02.18 – 27.02.18 – Outlook file no 11 – From 279 to 0 = 279
  • 27.02.18 – 27.02.18 – Outlook file no 12 – From 441 to 0 = 441
  • 28.02.18 – 28.02.18 – Outlook file no 13 – From 14187 to 10228 = 3959 (had a break – I’ll dive right back tomorrow)

By my calculations that should be about : 36 207 deleted e-mails – except – I have to deduct the amount of e-mails that have ended up “permanently” in File no 1.

File no 1 – new total 1603 minus old total 756 = 847 added e-mail

Which brings my total for February to – 35 360 decluttered e-mails 

Adding it up with January’s and we get:

Bookmarks – 1625
E-mails – 35795

That should make the total so far this year =37 420 digital “items out-the-door” 😉 

Now – wish me luck as I dive right back into e-mail hell!!!

Digital Declutter – January

Happy Valentines, everybody! 

I was thinking it was time to give you an update about how my digital declutter is going. 

It’s taken me a while to post this January status, due to my head playing up again.  When my headaches gets bad, I tend to cut down on my computer time, as hanging around the computer makes it worse.  Which means I pretty much haven’t been on my computer, since… yep, you’ve guessed it, since last time you heard from me.

I had all these elaborate plans for showing you pictures of before and after for each bullet below… but for the sake of getting this post out there, I’m going to take a cue from John and Barb, at Decluttering the stuff and just write it all out.

      • E-mails – I’ve got a ton of emails to go through (thousands of emails) as I have a bunch of e-mail backup files (more on this later). For now however I’m just going to be digging into one of my everyday accounts, my main account. I started out with 2065, and are now at 1630. That’s 2065 minus 1630 = 435 e-mails decluttered.

     

      • Bookmarks – Deleting bookmarks turned out to be a bit of a pain –
        I started out with almost 3000 bookmarks! I chipped away at it a little every day, and after a good week I was down on the 1200 level – and then – a hiccup!
        Something went wrong with a synchronization between iCloud, Google and Internet Explorer.. and suddenly I had 3332 bookmarks in my Favourites folder. Noooooo!!! Guess who had to start over 😦
        Thankfully I remembered some of the major deletes, so within a short time I was down to a more manageable number to chip away at.Today I’ve got 1375 bookmarks sitting nicely in my Favourites folder. So I guess that makes 3000 minus 1375 = 1625 bookmarks decluttered  (decluttered twice.. mind you 😉 )

     

I have to admit, it’s been kinda fun cleaning up old bookmarks. It’s been fun, because the bookmarks shows where my interest and focus has been. I’ve been roaming through topics like cars, IT user equipment, minimalist wallets, DIY sheds, house stuff (for when I was building my house), travel, golf ++ just to mention a few. It’s almost like looking at old photos.. it takes you down memory line 😉

So here you have it – total decluttered =2060 digital “items”

When life gets in the way of.. well.. life!

We have all had this happen to us. We plan things and then things just don’t always go according to plan.

Most of the time we humans operate with a resemblance of a plan in our head. A plan that might or might not stretch a bit into the future. You know, stuff like;  a project at work that has to be done by a date, things you need to do at at home, things that involve family or friends. Just plans or intentions in general, for what we’ll be doing the next week, two weeks, month or year.

You start out OK, you get your project underway, you have half of the week behind you and then suddenly life gets in the way of… life… and all your well intended plans goes slightly awry!

Somebody in the neighborhood pops by, asking if you could look after their dog for a couple of days, to avoid the dog being all alone. Your mum suddenly needs to be picket up at the airport. Out of the blue, your neighbor needs your help – cause their bathroom floor is overflowing with water. It snows and you need to clear all the walkways. A person in your Condominium Association wants you to take a look at the building insurance, because he thinks its to expensive – and this “small” request gives you three weeks of work getting new offers, hosting a group meeting, writing up the differences between the offers, sending out emails and currently waiting for the votes to come in on what we want to do…  And the list goes on!

Yeah.. all these little extras definitely threw a wrench into my plans… the dog however, such a cutie 😉

 

When life knocks you off your track, there is not much you can do, but to wait until things calm down, and then start from where you left off 😉

Since I have very limited time I can sit by the PC (before my headaches gets bad), I had to put my blog and my digital projects on hold, while all the insurance stuff was going on.

Now however, I hope I can get a bit back into it!

John and Barb over at Decluttering the Stuff  are already knee deep in their digital decluttering, and are running rings around me 😉 But hey, watch out, cause I will catch up 😉

See you around!

Digital Corner – Bookmarks/Favorites!

Last week I talked about cleaning up the Desktop. This week, we will be dealing with Bookmarks/Favorites.

I don’t know about you, but I seem to amass bookmarks left right and center. Between two PC’s, several different internet browsers, iPhone and iPad, I can’t keep track of them all.

You know the drill… You bookmarked a site – it had a really cool video, and you want to show it to your friends! But when you pull out your phone to show it, you just can’t seem to find it, regardless of how hard you try, it’s just not there… and your friends are getting sick of waiting for you to search your phone for it… and then it hit’s you – the darn link is on your computer at home!

I have run into this scenario once or twice 😉 And this year I’m all about getting my digital life sorted. So cleaning up my bookmarks, is definitely on the agenda.

The last couple of days I have consolidated all my bookmarks, into one big list.

I use Chrome as my main browser on my computer, but most of my old bookmarks are from the time I used Internet Explorer (IE) as my browser. So for this particular cleanup job, I’ll be running everything through Internet Explorer.

Since my old bookmarks backups are from different “sources”, I have had to use a couple of different ways to consolidate them.

  1. Through Windows File Explorer:
    Most of my old IE bookmark backups were copies of old Favourites folders – and all I needed to do was use copy/paste or move, from old backup media to current Favourites folder (which is located here:  Local disk C:\user\{username}\Favorites )

    Be aware that on Windows 10, it’s only IE bookmarks that are located in the Favourites folder. Browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge store their bookmarks in a database format, which means you can’t do much directly through File Explorer.
    .
  2. Using the Import and export function in Internet Explorer:
    Some of my bookmark backups are in a “.html” file format, and the best way to add these, is to use the import function in Internet Explorer.  How to import: Go to Internet Explorer – Favorites – Add to Favorites (down-arrow) – Import and Export – Import from a fileNext – Check Favorites check box, Next – Browse, select your file, Next – Select folder where you want to put the imported bookmarks, click Import – Finish.  You will find similar functions i other browsers.

After an initial quick cleanup (removing around 1100 or so), it was time to add some of my newer bookmarks.

The last few years, I have moved over to using iPad (and iPhone) for most of my internet surfing. And as will happen, I’ve racked up quite an impressive amount of bookmarks on these devices as well.

Since I’m doing a proper bookmarks declutter, I wanted to add the iPhone/iPad ones, and the best way to consolidate them all, was for me to install iCloud for Windows on my machine. With iCloud for Windows, it’s easy to synchronize photos, videos, mail, calendar and files between your iPad/iPhone and Windows PC. Installation is really easy.

So now I have all my bookmarks under the same umbrella, all located in my Favourites folder on my computer. It’s time to clean up for real 🙂

And this is after I have removed around 1100 !!!!

 

One of the biggest issues with old bookmark links, is that some of them don’t work anymore. Since there is no way, I’m going to individually click on 2982 bookmarks to find out if they work!!! I needed to find a software that would test this for me!

I looked online, and most of the recommendations seemed to gravitate towards a program called:  AM-DeadLink – this software will find your duplicates, check your links and mark all broken ones with the color of red and error code.

Unfortunately on it’s latest version it is no longer possible to delete broken links directly from within the program. Even so, I’ve found this software really useful as it will do most of what I want. It lets me sort my links by folder, by error code, by name and so on.

Even though it no longer will let you delete directly inside the software, it gives a clear idea about where I need to go in Windows File Explorer\Favourites or on Internet Explorer/Favourites to find the broken link.

The way I have done it so far (for the first 1100), is to have one open window, with the bookmark checker program, on one side of the screen, and one open window, with Internet Explorer or File Explorer, on the other side of the screen. It’s made the hunt for broken links easier.

 

I’m sure there are other programs out there that will help you, and I might (depending on how tedious this is) try another software.. but for now, I’ll give this one a try. If you should have any such program to recommend, please let me know. I need all the help I can get 🙂

Since I’m linking to 3 party software I’m just going to go ahead and add a disclaimer: I am no way affiliated with, nor am I receiving any benefits from links in this posting. I can not guarantee the software’s will do what you want/expect. Nor can I guarantee that they are 100% safe to use. All I can say, is that I have had no trouble with the software’s so far. All information are my own, I am not a professional, any action you take upon this information is at your own risk. 

Now that that’s out of the way 😉 It’s time for me to get on with it, after all, I have 2982 bookmarks to go through 😉

THIS WEEK’s task:

  • consolidate all bookmarks
  • clean them up
  • sort the keepers into a sensible folder structure for easy lookup later

Digital Corner – Desktop clutter!

I mentioned yesterday that this year my main focus will be to get control over my digital clutter. Rather than just forge ahead and only give you guys updates on what I’m reducing, I thought that maybe I should write a piece here and there about what areas that might be an idea to declutter. Just in case someone else wants to join along.

Today I want to talk about PC/MAC Desktop clutter. 

A lot of people store files directly on their Windows/Mac desktop, instead of saving them to some sort of document folder, (e.g. My Documents etc) as it makes things easy to reach.

Unfortunately what often happens, is that the desktop becomes cluttered, difficult to navigate and sometimes even distracting. Distracting, because all the icons can remind you of other things you need or want to do, and before you know it.. you’ve wasted time… not working on what you turned on the computer to do in the first place!

You should not underestimate the power of a clean desktop. Just like a messy room can make you anxious and stressed, so can a messy desktop.

A clean desktop is kinda like having a clean room. It can make your mind calm, clear and focused.

Yes, this is mine, and no, I did not clean it, it’s always like this. If you want to see cluttered ones – these gives me anxiety

There are also a couple of technical reasons for why you should not use your desktop as storage: 

In the text that follows, I’m talking about Microsoft Windows operating system (OS), since this is what I have. I do not know if it is the same on MAC OS. Regardless of OS, I think this is a valid consideration to take.

On Microsoft Windows versions older than Windows 8, your Desktop is not protected.

There are no file protection – mentioned on PC World, some directories, like example “My Documents” are not affected by System Restore. Files  stored on the desktop on the other hand, are affected by System Restore, which can result in files disappearing.

and no file backup as default –  A lot of file backup programs ignore desktop by default. Most backup programs will however allow you to change the settings to include it, but you have to actually do this.

On Microsoft Windows versions 8 and 10, backups are handled a little different than before, and I’m not sure, but I think maybe these newer OS backs up the desktop file as a default (that is, when you actually do a backup). But again, I’m not sure! To eer on the side of caution, I’m following the old time rule of not storing documents/programs/videos etc directly to the desktop.

What I do, if I want quick access, is to use links instead. I create an icon which links to where the document is stored on the PC.

Also a very cluttered desktop will slow down a computers startup time. Which means, cleaning it up, can help speed up your computer boot up time!

TODAY’s task: 

  • Delete and clear away items/icons on your Desktop that are no longer relevant or important.
  • Save items you want to keep, to folders like “My Documents”, “My Pictures” and so on – To save: Open the document, press File, Save as – give it a name and put it in the relevant place.
  • Only keep icons that starts up software programs, or that links to documents/videos/photos etc that is stored on your computer hard drive.

 

Hello 2018!

It’s amazing how fast time goes… 2017 went by in a whirl… and here we are, 2018!

I know a lot of people make elaborate new years resolutions, and they make a long list of plans for what they will be filling the new year with. Me, I have only a few things on my list;

Outside of my health, my goals are to travel and get my digital “life” under control!

My health I seem to have absolutely no control over! Even so.. I’m forever trying to figure it all out, and off course, that won’t stop, regardless of what year we are in!

Since I got sick, I’ve had to put a lot of my travel wish list, on hold. This year (health permitted) I am planning on checking off a couple of boxes on that list. More on this later 😉

The one task I probably have the most control over, is sorting out my digital life/clutter.

In today’s society there is so much that is going on in a digital form. There are social medias, emails, internet banking, different memberships, blogs, you name it.. it’s there!

A lot of us store files in some sorts of Cloud storage and some of us have a lot of data stored at home on physical media.

Over the next weeks and months, I will talk about the different digital areas, that some of us might want to minimize.

Today however I want to talk about the data I have stored at home… I have a mountain of it!

Between two (or really three, old one I don’t use anymore) PCs, eight external hard drive’s, 11 memory sticks, Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud and three different email accounts, I have tons, and tons of files.

Not only are there thousands of files, but I have backups and backups of backups, I’m sure there are even backups of backups of backups… you get the drift.

I have several hundred thousand different files like; software programs, videos, photos, documents, emails and more. I did a count… you won’t believe me.. but there are around 1.155.825 files, and that’s only my external hard drives.  I’m not even taking into account what’s on my computers, in my cloud storage’s and individual emails… I think I’m gonna cry 😢

I have singles, duplicates, triplicates and I’m sure, even some quadruplicate versions of files, documents, photos, videos, you name it, floating around.

I think it’s time to get it all under control 😉

On those before mentioned hard drives, the ones that totaled up 1.155.825 individual files…. there are 2217 GB (gigabyte) of data.  Now add my PC’s, memory sticks and cloud storage’s – we are talking something  around the border of 2350 GB, and I’m sure something else I forgot is gonna pop up somewhere.

I have a large goal for this clean up.. and I’m almost hesitant to tell you all about it, because I’m not even sure it’s achievable, considering I have a lot of music, videos and photos I want to keep… but I’m gonna throw it out there anyways.

OK.. here goes…

Hang on a minute…

“Taking a deep breath..”

OK…

No wait!

OK.. I’m ready…

My goal is to get down to 500 GB or less.

I know for some this doesn’t sound like it should be hard at all.. but for me.. this is huge.. I have decluttered my data before and removed a lot of stuff, so this is not my first time around.

And I can’t be heavy handed either, when deleting stuff, as I have to be careful about not throwing out important documents that I need to keep, like files related to my health, insurances, work ++

The thing, I think will be the most tedious part, is when I start consolidating files, to make sure I only have one copy instead of a gazillion copies.. it’s going to take forever! But this I’m sure you will hear more about when I get to it.

So there we have it.. reduce my digital stuff down to 1/5 of what I have today!

Oh boy.. this is gonna be hard.. good thing I have a full year 😉

And guess when I’ll be starting this? Yep.. there is no time like tomorrow!

See you then… 🙂

 

Adding to the numbers!

Christmas is over, and the new year is only a few hours away (at least here in Norway).

B and I spend Christmas in UK this year. Hanging out with my brother, his wife, his wife’s uncle and my mum 🙂 This year we tried the best we could to keep our “gifts” to usable/edible items, things like chocolate, marzipan, candy’s and kakemenn (for my brother.. he loves them), stuff that you can pretty much only get in Norway (as most of them are made here). I think we left them happily munching on stuff when we left to go home 😉

We have been back a couple of days, and as we are nearing the new year, I decided I needed one more run towards a declutter goal I had this year, that I haven’t told you about before!

When I finally finished this year’s 21 day challenge in August, I was thinking;

“Hey I’m almost at a 1000 items, I should be able to shed a few more during this year. I have another 4 months to go… ”

And I thought out this elaborate plan that maybe I should shoot for decluttering as many items during 2017 as I have written about on this blog since I started my declutter journey in 2014.

So how many items would that be then missus Anne?

Well, lets see now – that would be 634 items in 2014, 561 items in 2015 and 437 items in 2016… (mumbling and calculating under my breath… ) – that’s 1632 items!
I should be able to do that!! I still have 4 months to go.. no problem!!! (remember.. this is what I was thinking in August.)

Well here we are, at the last day of December and my total for the year is at 1508 – that’s 124 items away from my imaginary 1632!

I’ve been thinking about this, and it probably didn’t matter if I did it or not… but I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.. I really want to get to the 1632!

I have a lot of digital decluttering that needs doing, something that will be my main focus in 2018.  I decided to cheat and start early, and what better place to start than my iPad mini, which I use every day.

So that’s what I did!

I knew I had way, and I mean way to many apps hanging around on my iPad, and that I could really do with a cleanup. I checked (Settings/General/About) and found that I had 468 third party apps residing on my iPad. I know.. crazy, right! Who need that many apps? Well I certainly don’t… even so.. I found it harder than I thought to whittle down the apps. For the purpose of a count of items, I’ve decided 5 apps = 1 item

 

From 468, to 318 = 150 apps less
= 30 items

 

Getting some of the apps out of the way, I decided to move on to my iPad emails! One of my challenges with e-mails is that, with my e-mail provider, they sync to the iPad, iPhone, PC and remains on the server. Problem is, when I delete something, I need to do it on all 4 places 😦 (haven’t figured a way around this yet). So safe to say, it’s a pain keeping up on it all, and it shows…

To find out how many e-mails I had on my iPad, I marked all emails with a flag, so the total would show in the Flagged section of my email program (now.. this is probably not a good idea, if you already have a lot of flagged emails for later reference – I had some, but I checked them first to see if any was important to remember anymore, and they weren’t). For the items count, I’ve decided that 10 emails = 1 item

From 2007, to 1296 = 711 emails gone
= 71 items

 

Just to throw in some actual physical stuff – I figured that shredding a pile of papers that was waiting to go, probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.

I have a portable shredder that I use with a specific trash bin. I can typically shred around 200-250 pieces of paper before the bin is full. Food store receipts? Well then we are talking probably 700-800. Since I’m counting items, I have decided that one full bin equals 10 items out-the-door. This time around, it was a mix of regular paper and store receipts, which equals a lot of single pieces of paper. 

I shredded 3 bins full
= 30 items

That’s a total of 131 items for today! 

And my new grand total for 2017 = 1639!

I guess I passed my silent goal of 1632, yayyy 😉

That’s it for 2017 – no more decluttering!

Until next year 😉