Clutter in My Documents

My Documents

I recently begun to clean up and organize files on my desktop. It’s been about a year since I built it, so as you can image, there were files and documents scattered all over the HDD in various unorganized and cryptically-named folders. This chaotic mess of files was making it hard to find anything, even with search, so something had to be done. I endeavored to organize everything into the “My Documents” folder for easy access from a variety of programs, and then remembered why I’d stayed out of it in the first place – all the clutter that’s already there.


What spawned this attempt at organization was my recent purchase of an additional 500 GB HDD. Not wanting it to fall into disorganization like the primary one, I decided I’d bring order from the start. Since I intended to use “My Documents” as a root for all of my stuff, I moved it off my Windows partition to the secondary HDD, so that it grow in size and not fill up my primary HDD. While the technical benefits from this might be mute, it does make things easier when you store all of your personal data on a separate drive or partition than your Windows one – if you ever need to reformat or reinstall, wiping the Windows partition won’t affect the partition your data is on.

Running into trouble

It was at this point that I noticed all the stuff that was already in My Documents, the reason that I never really used in the first place – it’s already too cluttered. Most games will put their save game files in “My Documents”, and while I’m not opposed to this (it makes backing up and finding your saved games easier), I don’t like how they’re stored there. Most games simply create a folder in the root of “My Documents”, so if you have a lot of games installed, your folder will already be cluttered. It would be much better if all them adhered to some sort of convention – for example, putting them in sub folder called “My Game Saves” or something similar. Strangely, some of them attempt to do so, such as Age of Empires 3, TES IV: Oblivion and Civilization 4, which put their save games in the “My Games” sub folder. But, it’s not consistent, even with the same publisher – for example, Flight Simulator X doesn’t follow the same convention as Age of Empires 3. (I realize I could probably move all the save games to their own sub folder and edit some games’ configuration files to reflect this, but it’d be a major PITA.)

My Documents clutter

Furthermore, applications also add their own folders to “My Documents”, such as Skype, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo! Widgets. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good idea to pair application data with a user’s profile, I just have a problem with where it’s been put. Shouldn’t “My Documents” be for user-created data, such as their documents, photos and other files? A separate folder could be made to store all the data that is associated with games and applications. Perhaps this is just how my brain works. But, I like it when I can put all my important personal files in one folder, and then easily back that up to my external HDD regularly. Even if you have backup scheduling software, a setup like this would make things easier.

For now, I’m just going to create a sub-folder in “My Documents” called “Documents” that stores all my files, organized of course, into their own sub-folders.


  1. I know this article is a bit old, but I’m commenting on it none the less.

    I’m in 100% agreement with you. I, too store My Documents folder on a separate drive. When I format, I only have to use Powertoys to point Windows XP to “My Documents” folder on the second drive and I’m set. When I install a game on a fresh XP installation, all my saved files will still be in the “My Documents” folder and no need for any backing up.

    I’m also in agreement about the clutter. The only things I would like in “My Documents” are “My Pictures, My Music, and My Videos,” as well as any other custom folders *I* add to it. I do not fancy having folders like Adobe, TurboTax, or whatever folder some 3rd party software company wants to add into My Documents folder. That’s application data, why is it in my personal folder??

    I’m pretty much just repeating what you have said, but I’m stating my agreement. Good read.

  2. Thanks for the support! We must start a war against “My Documents” clutter!

  3. I hate all all the stuff from games (Amnesia, Battlefield 3, Battlefield Heroes, Battlefield Bad Company 2, Dead Island, GTA4, Trackmania) get stored in my documents (Windows 7 x64) and also some software (DVD Architect, DVDVideosoft, Image-Line, musicbee, samsung software, vegas movie studio). Shouldn’t this stuff be in the Program Files folder???

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