Setting up Your Workspace

In a typical workflow, you work on geospatial data using a local hard drive. When done, you compress your data and back up your work to your cloud storage so that you can retrieve the files from anywhere. When referring to a local hard drive, it means you are working on data physically located on the computer in front of you. On a personal computer, this is most often the C: drive.

In contrast, some computers also include networked drives. Networked drives link to cloud storage and save the data elsewhere. Examples include services like OneDrive or Google Drive.  You must avoid using networked drives while you work. They increase the processing time and can cause technical glitches.

In this course, we will be using a particular folder structure. For each lab activity, you will start by creating your workspace folder on the local hard drive. If you are a registered student at Humboldt State University working in a computer lab, you will use the desktop as your local hard drive location. You may also use an external USB drive if you plan to work in multiple places.

A workspace is a folder or series of folders that contain all of your project files. The top-level folder in your workspace, also called the project folder should indicate the lab assignment or the project. You will organize all of your work within the project folder.

On your local hard drive, create a new folder and give it a descriptive name, such as “GSP101_Activity1.” Be sure there are no spaces. You may use underscores instead of spaces. Inside this folder, create the following three subfolders: original, working, and final. Having a standardized folder structure helps to keep a project organized, primarily when you are working with multiple partners. At Humboldt State University the folder structure you see here is the standard used in most courses.

An image of the Activity 1 workspace structure
A basic folder structure used in this course.

 

As the name indicates, use the original folder for storing original, unaltered data. As you are working on a project, if for some reason your working version of the data gets lost or corrupted, you can go back to your original folder and find a fresh copy of the data.

Use the working folder for data that you create or alter while working on your project. Use the final folder for storing any output you produce as a result of your work such as images, maps, tables, or reports. In this activity, you will primarily be using the original folder and the working folder. However, setting up the standard folder structure for a project is good practice and a habit you want to develop.