Whether you are storing files on your computer's hard drive or on a networked drive, it is important to establish a system that allows you to access your files, avoid duplication, and that can be backed up. A good place to start is to develop a logical folder structure. The following tips should help you develop such a system:
- Group files within folders so that all information on a particular topic is located in one place.
Adhere to existing procedures
- Check for established approaches in your team or department which you can adopt.
Name folders/directories appropriately
- Name folders after the areas of work to which they relate and not after the employees creating and using them. This avoids confusion in shared workspaces if an employee leaves, and makes the file system easier for new staff or subsequent projects to navigate.
- When developing a naming scheme for your folders it’s important that once you’ve decided on a method, you stick to it. It's okay to change a system that you establish if it doesn't work for you or your coworkers, but once you've settled on a scheme, always use it. If you can, try to agree on a naming scheme within your department or before a shared project so that everyone uses and understands the scheme.
Structure folders/directories hierarchically
- Start with a limited number of folders for the broader topics and then create more specific folders within these.
Separate ongoing and completed work
- As you start to amass lots of folders and files, it is a good idea to separate your old documents from those you are currently working on. You might create a folder with the same name as the original and add the word "Archive" or a destruction date to the end.
- Ensure that your files, whether they are on your local drive or on a network drive, are backed up regularly.
- Assess materials regularly or at the end of a project to ensure files are not kept needlessly. Put a reminder in your calendar so you don't forget!