Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Data Management Is Still Too Hard

Every time I talk to new computer users, or even old users, it seems file management is still way too hard. When downloading from the internet, saving, and finding later doesn't make sense, I think some reflection is in order.

Does your mom have a computer? Does she have photos? Ask her where they are. Did you just email her a new one? Ask her where she put it. I am betting there is a general confusion. Try explaining to update the default download location. Then send her a video file. Why is it in the photo directory? Maybe just put everything on Facebook? Nope, Facebook won't last forever. The cloud? That will change too.

Even for very experienced users, the task is similarly complex. Due to understanding of issues and potential loss, the organization and backup is overwhelming. Spreading data across disks and machines adds even more complexity. Breaking the owner's data between location, even more. Many copies, which one is the active one? Which one needs to be updated? Synchronization isn't fun.

I don't know what the answer is for normal people. For me, I just need bigger drives, and I need 2x the base to keep the duplicate copies offline and safe somewhere. I know some media software searches your drives and then presents in the interface better, but this doesn't help the user get better at management of their data. Maybe they shouldn't have to get better, but then again, I bet the every day user is still worried about data loss.

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