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messy boxes in a storage room
Matthew MisterSep 27, 2019 8:07:00 AM5 min read

Digital Hoarding: Not just messy houses

Who remembers the show hoarders? When I think of that show all I can see are piles of junk thrown around in an unorganized mess. The crazy thing about it is that the hoarder knows that this is an issue but continues to do nothing about it.

This may be an extreme example, but similar situations are out there with how media is managed. As video producers ingest large amounts of data there needs to be some way of organizing it all so when the time to edit comes, it can be quickly found, otherwise your editors are spending way too much time digging around for the files they need.

Digital hoarding can turn ugly quickly if it is not addressed. As more files continue to come in, the mess just gets bigger. Luckily, there are simple ways to prevent and besides being a time-consuming project, cleaning up the mess isn’t very difficult.

Are you a digital hoarder?

How do you know if you are a digital hoarder? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I have unnecessary files that I no longer need in my storage system?
  • Do I have multiple versions of the same project?
  • Does it take way too long to find media files?
  • Do we have a standard file naming convention or does everyone use their own system?
  • Are our files organized by projects or just randomly spread across our storage?
  • Do we forget to apply metadata to our media files?

If you can answer YES to these questions, hate to break it to you…. but you might be a good candidate for the next episode of “Hoarders: Digital Disaster.”

We don’t want to see that happen, we want every creative out there to be able to find the media files they need in a few seconds and get on to making awesome video content. That’s why we got into this business, to enable creatives to spend more time being creative.

If you are guilty of being a digital hoarder that doesn’t mean you’re stuck! You can fix the issue with a few changes to how you manage your media. It may be as simple as getting over the fear of deleting media

How to get over your fear of deleting media?

If you’re like most people, hitting the delete button on a media file can be as scary as looking out of a plane before skydiving. You’re much safer staying in the plane (unless it breaks down mid-flight) and once you jump, there’s no turning back.

While you may not be risking your life when you delete media (unless your boss hasn’t had their first cup of coffee yet) there can still be a lot at stake.

  • Deleting clips that were filmed on location
  • Deleting a clip from an event that has already happened
  • Deleting the only version of a project
  • Deleting the wrong version of a project and having to redo everything

With some of the possible outcomes, it makes sense that people in charge of managing media tend to shy away from the delete button. But that can lead to much larger problems if not dealt with.

By not deleting media files when you no longer need them there are a few things you will begin to notice:

  • You’re running out of storage faster than expected
  • You have multiple versions of the same project but no idea which one is the most current
  • You are spending more time searching for files than you are working on them

Once these issues start piling up you will begin to notice that your team has switched from a group of creatives into a group of data wranglers and that’s not what you’re there to do. But unless you have cleared out unnecessary files this is what you are destined to be until you get over that fear and if you have properly backed up all of your essential media files you should have nothing to worry about.

How to combat Digital Hoarding:

Just like in an episode of Hoarders, the clean-up process begins by organizing your media into groups. When you create these groups make sure that you give every folder or project a name with a finite limit. Some examples of finite folder names could be:

  • Footage 2018
  • Arizona Project 2017
  • Steve’s B-Roll 2019

By setting a finite limit it mentally prevents you from creating infinitely large folders that take forever to search. This also allows you to see your data in smaller declared groups where you may realize that there are multiple versions of the same file. Once you begin to catch these you can clear them out and start to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

How to Prevent Digital Hoarding:

Using the same organization system we used to cleanup, establish a naming and organization convention with finite names.

A great example of how this works would be if you had a box labeled “Sales Orders.” If that’s all the box says then every single sales order will go into it. So, what happens when that box fills up?

Do you throw it all away…...?

Of course not! You just get a bigger box.

But what if you need to find a sales order from 2016? Where do you start looking?

A logical guess would say look toward the bottom of the box. But what if someone grabbed it already and didn’t put it back EXACTLY where they found it? Either way you’re going to be spending A LOT of time sifting through old sales orders.

Let’s take that same situation but this time you have each box labeled with a finite name:

  • Sales Order 2016
  • Sales Order 2017
  • Sales Order 2018

When it’s time to find that sales order you know exactly where to start your search! You’re also saving yourself time by not having to look through as many files as you would have to in the general “Sales Orders” box from last scenario.

You can create the same exact filing system for your media, and can even take it one step further by creating sub-folders within your main folders. An example of what this could look like is:

  • 2018 Customer Projects
    • Company A
      • Interviews
      • B-Roll
    • Company B
      • Action Shots
      • Close Ups
    • Company C
      • Graphics
      • Music

Just by looking at this file structure you can see it makes finding what you need much simpler.

By setting up a similar file structure from the beginning you can prevent your media from spilling over into chaos and save yourself a lot of headaches.