Libraries in Windows 7 and Network Drives

Windows 7 has a new feature called “libraries” which is basically a location in the file system where you can link different files and folders from different locations together into one place.  So for example if you have photos stored in different locations and on different drives, you can list these all together under one master “Pictures” folder in your library.  Now when you want to access some pictures instead of having to wander through all the various locations that you might have them stored on different drives, you can see them all listed together in one place.

One serious flaw with this idea has been that Windows 7 doesn’t let you add folders on network drives to libraries.  As users are increasingly using network file storage and are likely to store things like pictures, music, or movies on these network drives, the inability to link them into libraries is a glaring omission.  Fortunately someone has created a fix which is free and Open-Source: Win7 Library Tool by Zorn Software.  This simple to use tool allows you to add items on network drives to libraries.

Because over time I end up having data scattered across different locations and on different storage devices, I’m starting to see the benefit of using libraries.  I tend to make mirror copies of systems which, when I upgrade systems, end up laying around on storage drives.  When I set up a new system I sometimes do not just mirror all the data back as I tend to accumulate a lot of junk and like to start fresh, copying only the data to the new system that I really want.  Its like cleaning out an old closet by basically taking everything out and putting it in storage, and then taking back only what you really need (isn’t there an axiom about cleaning to the effect that if you don’t use something you should basically toss it?).  The problem is that the “junk” still exists on the backup drives, and oftentimes I will at some point or other down the road need to access that information.

A way to start solving this is to link all these locations back together in one master location and then sort through them, index them, and remove duplicates.  So now all those old storage units where I’ve stuffed my junk, much of which is duplicate, can be symbolically put back together in one location where I can more easily sort through it and throw out more stuff.  Using libraries is a way to do this.