If you were to do this TODAY what would you do?

I hope that everyone is healthy as can be, and avoiding Cabin Fever…!

Quick question, if you were to totally start over today, from scratch, and could design your storage system (folder/file/tagging or any variation of those) what type of system (and backup would you create)?


If I were to start over, I would probably end up with basically the same setup.

At the moment I have 3x8TB, 1x3TB external HHD hanging off a MacBook Pro which serves as a Plex server, which backblaze backs up.

Every other computer in the house treats its storage as ephemeral.
After 4 - 5 years of service each drive gets replaced.

I would just start with 4x12TB and that’s about it.

Hey Ben…thanks for sharing that.

If I can follow up, what about your file organization?

Top down folders and files? Flat with tags??

A year or two ago i got into doing tagging, but i found that things got out of hand. At the moment i am using an approach where everything is in its place.

So each of my 4 external drives hold specific data, because i have a huge Plex library different sections of it live of different drives, so i have a whole 8TB HDD for movies, an another for TV shows.

The interesting drive is the 3TB drive. It has a bunch of folders organised around contexts.

For example i have a folder called school which has two sub folders, one for my Batchelor degree and one for my masters, inside those there are folders for each subject, in each subject it has each week of classes and assignments.

I have another top level folder on that drive called code, which has sub folders for each programming project underneath it.

I have a folder for invoices, under which is a folder for each year.

What i like about traditional file and folder systems. Is that it is not mutually exclusive with tags. Within invoices, some of them are tagged for finding come tax time.

If for example i just had one big folder with everything thrown in it, i could only ever use tags to search it, but if i have a file system, then much of all of the same meta data which is used in a tagging system can still be used while maintaining a data shape.

After many, many years I am fairly ingrained with hierarchical file structures. I understand the concepts of tagging as an alternative but it just doesn’t work with my thinking. For backups, pretty much the exact same thing I’m doing now. Having been involved in corporate disaster planning and recovery I’m pretty anal about backups.

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P.A.R.A - see Tiago Forte


Here is a thread I started on using Devonthink for my filing needs. If anything, I have even gone deeper with Devonthink by importing all my email into it. I am a criminal defense attorney, so my filing system is pretty obvious for the most part, using top level folders for each client. Within the folders, I use tags on an ad-hoc basis to get organized when I need to. For example, this morning I appeared by video in front of my state’s Supreme Court to argue a case. The case file had approximately 200 PDFs in it. I spent about an hour or two going through the documents yesterday, tagging them, and today I had pretty much no difficulty laying my cursor on the right PDF in a matter of seconds when I was being questioned by the Court. Of course, I understand my use case is probably not applicable to a lot of people’s needs, but I have been creating further databases in addition to my work databases for taxes, personal information (bills, health records, etc). And it seems to be infinitely customizable to address the need at hand.

Yep, your requirements are certainly at a much different level than mine :sunglasses: But sounds like a solid system.

Do you run the MacBook Pro headless or it is in normal use (I mean, used also as a regular computer)?

My original storage method is generally heirarchical. However, my retrieval method generally involves Alfred. I have switched the standard keyboard shortcuts a bit. Option-Space opens up the standard Spotlight Search, Command-Space opens up Alfred. From there I can generally find any file or setting dialog in 1-5 keystrokes. At this point, it almost doesn’t matter where I’ve stored things, but if files have similar names, then the heirarchical system kicks in as a qualifier.

The answer to that is an annoying yes and no.

It sits on a corner of my desk, most of the time it is headless and if i want to do something with it i remote in using Screens or Chrome Remote Desktop.

However sometimes i will use it as an actual computer when i am sitting at my desk, ether to work on side projects or as a secondary display.

After awhile you get used to the sounds of 4 mechanical hard drives spinning

I did not mention it before, but all 4 drives are networked and i access them using SMB / Samba from whatever computer i am currently using. So really the MacBook serves the same use as a NAS for a lot of people.

Computers featured from left to right.
MacBook Pro 15” (2016) (Plex box)
MacBook Pro 15” (2018)
Surface Pro 3
iPad Pro 10.5”
Galaxy Tab A (2017)
MacBook Pro 15” (2011) (I keep it around for networking)
Windows Desktop / Headless server.


thanks for the answer :smiley:

do you just keep it open or use some kind of dongle to make it believe it has a monitor attached when the lid il closed? I am thinking of converting a 2013 MacBook Air to something similar but don’t have any experience in the process :smile:

I just leave the lid open with the screen off, it’s just perpetually sleeping.

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I mean this in the nicest way possible, but that setup would drive me absolutely NUTS. My OCD would kick in as soon as I walked in the door. I wish I could work like that and be comfortable. :grin:

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