The Hard Drive And The Memory – Their Purposes, And How To Keep Them “Tidy”

Remember, any detailed instructions relate to Microsoft computers running on Windows 8, 10, or 11 operating systems.

I’m sure that everybody reading this blog will already understand the difference between “Computer Hardware” and “Computer Software”. “Computer Hardware” is what you can physically touch, and “Computer Software” is made up of several different kinds of “Computer Files”. These files can be program files, data files, image files, and many others. All files have a name, then a dot, followed by what is known as an extension. An extension is usually only 3 or (occasionally) 4 letters or numbers long, which identifies what kind of file it is.

Regarding “Computer Hardware”, as a computer user, there are only three of the hundreds of components within the body of your computer, whatever type it is, that you really need to concern yourself with. They are The Motherboard, The Memory, and The Hard Drive. The Motherboard is the whole “floor” of your computer and it contains many different carefully designed slots into which all of the components, including The Memory, and The Hard Drive are inserted. If you accidentally drop your computer and The Motherboard is damaged it is very likely that you can say goodbye to your baby, as it will probably be cheaper to buy a new computer than it would be to replace The Motherboard.

The Memory will be mentioned several times in this blog post, which will concentrate on The Hard Drive, but the one thing I do want to mention about it at this early stage is that The Memory has the most inappropriate name. Why? Because if your computer loses power, everything that is in the “Memory” will be lost. If your computer is switched off, if your laptop’s battery is allowed to go flat, or if you have a desktop and there is a power outage, “The Memory” will “forget” everything that it currently contains. More about that later.

Regarding “Computer Software”, all files no matter what type of file they are, are stored on “The Hard Drive”. Now imagine that your hard drive was a big cardboard open-topped box into which all the files, of all types, in your computer were randomly thrown, what a mess it would become. Computer programs can each have thousands of files, then there are data files and many other types of files that you, as a user, create or download. The drawer where you throw your socks, ties, underwear, and anything else that you don’t iron, would look neat and tidy in comparison. So what do we do about it?

Imagine that your computer is an office. Two people work in this office, doing the same jobs, but at different times. Deborah works during the day and Eric works the night shift. In the office, there is only one desk and chair, but there are three cabinets. One of the cabinets has been allocated to Deborah, one to Eric, and one contains instructions on how to do the work required. Deborah and Eric do the same job, but they have their own clients, so, at the end of each shift, they must put all of their papers back in their own cabinets to leave an empty desk for their colleague when the next shift starts. I know that in real life, Deborah and Eric would know how to do the vast majority of their work and would rarely, if ever need to look at the contents of the third cabinet, but computers need to be reminded how to do, even the easiest thing, every time it is asked to do it, hence the need for the third cabinet.

Before I discuss, in more detail, the main subject of this blog post, the hard drive, I want to discuss the shared desk in our imaginary office. The shared desk, whether Deborah or Eric is sitting at it, represents our computer’s “Memory”. It is where all the work is done. As previously discussed, when our computer ceases to be powered by electricity, its memory “forgets” all of its contents. There is a four-hour break between when Deborah finishes work, and Eric starts his night shift. To avoid the computer overheating Deborah switches it off before she leaves the office. The computer’s memory is therefore erased. This can be compared to the cleaning person who cleans the office between all shifts doing his or her job. He or she has been instructed to discard all of the contents of the shared desk, except for the computer and the telephone, and dump all papers, etc in the building’s rubbish bins. So, if Deborah does not return all of the papers to her filing cabinet, and the instructions, to their cabinet, a lot of her day’s work will be lost and it will end up in the garbage. Deborah returning her work papers to her filing cabinet is akin to saving her work and returning the instructions to their cabinet is akin to closing down all of the programs she has been using during her shift.

When a new computer is purchased the hard drive is called the “C:” drive. The reason why it is called that and not the “A:” drive is steeped in history. I could explain it, but it would be a waste of both of our time, as it’s not important and would detract from my main message. Just accept the fact that, when new, the whole hard drive is known as the “C:” drive. It contains the operating system and various areas reserved for other things, far too complicated for the average user to be bothered with. However, when new, the vast majority of the space on the “C:” drive is empty.

While it is possible to store all files, no matter what kind they are, on the “C:” drive using “Folders” and “Sub-Folders” to organize them, I prefer to reserve the “C:” drive for program files only. Usually, only one other drive is necessary, which is often the “D:” drive, known as the data drive. Again, using the “D:” drive could be used to store both Deborah’s and Eric’s files simply using “Folders” and “Sub-folders” to organize them. However, using this method would not prevent either Deborah or Eric from accidentally saving their files in the wrong person’s area.

The hard drive can be “Partitioned” into as many “areas” that are deemed necessary. Using our office analogy, I would create a “D:” drive, for Deborah, (represented by her cabinet), and an “E:” drive for Eric, (represented by his cabinet). It is not within the scope of this blog post to describe how to create these partitions, but if you press the Windows key and type “Partitioning a hard drive” in the box at the bottom, or use Google, or ChatGPT, you should be able to do it. Basically, you have to reduce the size of the “C:” drive (represented by the cabinet containing the instructions) and reallocate the amount of freed space to one or more partitions named by a letter, followed by a colon (:). In our example, it would also be possible to prohibit Deborah from saving her work in Eric’s partition and vice versa. If you find this too difficult you may have to ask your computer supplier to do it for you. But I managed it, so it can’t be that difficult!

If you also have an external storage facility attached by a cable and USB socket, the operating system will automatically allocate an unused letter and colon to that as well.

Within each partition or external storage facility you can create an unlimited number of “Folders”, and, within each “Folder” you can create an unlimited number of “sub-folders” and so on ad-infinitum. You can then logically organize all your files, whether you have created them, or you have downloaded them from the Internet, or somebody has sent them to you as attachments to an email. The best way to do this is to download a free tool from “Altap Salamander”. I’m sure I paid a nominal sum for my copy years ago, and I wanted to see if there was an affiliate scheme, but it’s now Freeware. So my loss of commissions is your gain, boohoo LOL. I can’t recommend it strongly enough. I suggest you download it NOW. (Just Google “Altap Salamander” and follow your nose or click on Here’s what it looks like.

In the left panel, you can see the contents of my D:\phils_work\Dean Holland (My Mentor) folder. When I set this up my daughter occasionally used my computer and there is a D:\Nings_work\ folder. She was never going to use it enough to warrant setting up her own partition, but now that she has her own computer, the folder D:\Phils_work\ is redundant, but there’s little point in getting rid of it.

If I double-click on the sub-folder “Affiliate System” Altap Salamander shows me, in the right panel, that the sub-folder “Affiliate System contains four sub-sub folders, one of which is called “Lead Magnets”. If I then double-click on the sub-sub-folder “Lead Magnets”, Altap Salamander’s right panel changes to show me that the sub-sub-folder “Lead Magnets” contains two sub-sub-sub-folders called “videos” and “PDFs”. The contents of the sub-sub-sub folder “videos” is shown in the right panel of the image. There are five videos given to me by Dean Holland, my mentor to be used as lead magnets or for any other purpose that I desire, and three images that I have used, or may use in the future, to complement the videos. How do I know what kinds of file they all are? By their extension and the small icon to the left of the title.

By using Altap Salamander, I can easily do many things with folders and files. I can create, name, and rename, folders and sub-folders, rename files, copy or move files or whole folders with or without sub-folders, make back-ups to external storage devices, and countless other functions. Altogether, it’s a free tool that keeps your hard drive organized, speeds up your programs, and safeguards your work, whether you use your computer only for Internet Marketing, or for other purposes as well.



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10 thoughts on “The Hard Drive And The Memory – Their Purposes, And How To Keep Them “Tidy””

    1. Hi Kate,

      Thanks, and make sure that you download Atap Salamander and have a good play around with it. With your mouse point at either the left or right pane, and right-click and see the options you have in addition to the ones at the bottom of the screen. If you need any help, don’t hesitate to contact me by email.


  1. Hello Phil,

    I read what you wrote in the Facebook group and thought oh boy, this will probably be over my head.. But I am happy to say, I understood everything you talked about, it was a great breakdown. I’m actually Deb and Eric. :) Deb for my day job, and since I use the same laptop for IP – I’m Eric on the google drive. ( I think!)

    Thanks for breaking it all down.

    Sandy recently posted…My 9th Post – What’s Next?My Profile

    1. Hi Sandy,

      Thanks, and make sure that you download Atap Salamander and have a good play around with it. With your mouse point at either the left or right pane, and right-click and see the options you have in addition to the ones at the bottom of the screen. If you need any help, don’t hesitate to contact me by email.


  2. Phil, thank you for this. Reading this reminded me of first going into computers in the early 90s. I have actually built several computers myself using the motherboard, inserting memory, putting in the processor into its socket. Adding graphics cards and CD,ROMs and soundboards as well as graphics cards. So I felt quite nostalgic reading your blog. thanks, Atif
    Atif Perwiz recently posted…Maximising Your Affiliate Marketing Potential: Tips for SuccessMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Atif,

      I guess that my post wasn’t aimed at you, but I bet that there are many others in our group, whose hard drives are like my imagined box of unmatched socks. Do you remember using DOS to organize your files? I used it up to about five years ago via the “CMD” prompt before I found Atap Salamander. I still sometimes find myself thinking of “Directories” instead of “Folders” and limiting the names of files to 8 characters.


  3. Phil, This post brings me way back to 1982. I think it was some sort of Intro to Mainframe computers course for our Mainframe Programing diploma program at Humber College in Toronto.

    The instructor began by saying, “Close your books.”. And for the next few weeks it was the same thing over and over. But he would go on and on about something he figured we were familiar with – washers and dryers!

    Like that course, your post has my head on spin-dry. Given that I have much knowledge about both hardware and software – I kind of followed what you said.

    I also remember back in the day – using a file management program (the name escapes me) but it was very useful to have a right and left panel.

    How does this Altap Salamander differ from having two explorer windows side by side?
    Robert Klein recently posted…Truth Be KnownMy Profile

    1. Robert,

      You answer your own question in your last paragraph, by your answer in your penultimate paragraph. “It is very useful to have a right and left panel”. There are “Move” and “Copy” buttons in Alatap Salamander, but you can also drag files from one folder to another. This is most useful when you download a file, say a PDF, from the Internet which goes into your designated Downloads folder somewhere in your C: drive. I usually have the right panel set to the download folder in my C: panel. All I need to do is to navigate the left panel to the segment, folder, and, if necessary the sub-folder where I want the PDF file to permanently reside, and, using my mouse drag the file from the right panel to the left panel, and the job is done. There’s no need to move from one window to another, which is a hassle, even if they are both open side-by-side.

  4. Phil.

    Great job in describing hard drives, software and partitioning. The ability to partition a hard drive can be a valuable tool to add additional drives to a computer system. It is also a good way to protect files on a computer. If one’s files are stored on a separate partition and the main one becomes corrupt it doesn’t effect the other partitions.

    It is more advanced but they are also great for running multiply operating systems on the same computer.

    It was a great read!

    1. Thank you CJ, and welcome back.

      Did you have a look at Altap Salamander? It makes organizing your folders and files so easy. Even between partitions.


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