Programmers and Systems Analysts, please consider this article before designing or writing your next piece of software.
Computer users, do you know where your data is?
I have programs that I have used for years. Often, those programs write data. They write it, well, somewhere.
If I want to back up or delete the data, I have to know where it is stored. When I replace my computer, I have to find that data so I can copy it to the new system.
I play some on-line games. The games save my progress in the game to a file on my system. After finishing the game, I may wish to reset the game data so that I can play again from the beginning.
All of the above situations are made more difficult because much software does not indicate where it stores its data and gives no option to back up or delete the data.
As someone very familiar with computers, I can deal with this. Sometimes, it is easy, but sometimes, it is awkward. Either way, it is still a bother for me. It must be worse for others.
When I replace my system, I list the programs that I use, then find out where they store their data. I then carefully check the list again. Finally, I move the data over to the new system. This is somewhat time-consuming, and it is made worse, because most programs give no idea where they store their data. “their” data? I meant to write “my” data.
If you are writing a computer program, consider adding features to allow for data to be backed up and restored from within your program (as some accounting systems do). If you do not do this, at least give some indication of where the data is so that someone can figure it out easily.
Remember, if your program is useful, it may end up being used for many years. In that time, the computer is liable to be replaced. Please make it easy for this to happen and the user able to continue using your program.