Saturday, November 20, 2010

Give me back My Documents

The hard drive of a modern computer holds tens of thousands of files stored in a labyrinthine tangle of folders and sub folders. It used to be comforting therefore to know that there was always one folder called "My Documents" that belonged to you and in which you could store your personal stuff in a special place where it would always be easy to find.

Sadly this is no longer the case if you are a gamer. For the last few years games have taken to using and abusing "My Documents" as if it were there own personal playground. My own computer was a clean install only a few months back and already "My Documents" looks more like the catalogue of a game shop than a collection of personal files:

It started out with good intentions. A decade ago games stored all of the players personal information (save games, config files, screenshots) in sub-folders of the program directory. This was not ideal because the information was very hard to find should you ever want to carry your game progress from one computer to another and it was also not ideal for computers which were shared between multiple users. Looking around for a new place to store this data which would be both easy to find and personal to each user, game developers settled on the "My Documents" folder. The idea quickly caught on and today most games use this directory to store user information. It wouldn't be so bad if they all adhered to good practise and only put their stuff in the "My Games" sub folder but sadly a lot of companies just create their own new directory in "My Documents" and use that. After a year of so of active gaming your "My Documents" folder becomes a cluttered mess.

Since moving to Windows 7 I have stopped using "My Documents" altogether because of this clutter. I find it easier to create alternative folders for my personal files and use the handy libraries feature of Window 7 to keep track of where they all are. I do miss it though.

1 comment:

Anton said...

I don't think I have so many games that this is a problem, but I do have a ton of folders in there for various projects etc. I've just allowed the folder to evolve into something that makes sense to me, and it feels comfortable as it's set up the way I've arranged it.