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Tech Tips
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How to Manage Files and Folders
So You Don't Lose Your Work

How to Manage Files and Folders So You Don't Lose Your Work

By Marco Ciavolino, Enktesis, LLC, marco@enktesis.com, 410-838-8264

Try To Teach Your Team to Name Files and Folders in a Logical Manner. We fight this battle every year with programs named "Our cool whacko program" or "Third box test" etc. So we'll try again (and you should, too). Here are some tips.


 
Download The Entire Set of Essays

Download "Mundane and Boring Subjects that will Change Your Digital Life"
CLICK HERE FOR THE DOCUMENT


File Naming So You Can Find Your Work
Folder Naming and Versioning
Nitty Gritty Of Website Development
What Is A Corporate Id?
Designing A Logo
The Six Basic Word Functions To Know
Good Type Makes A Difference. Really.
Can You Weather :) Cloud Computing?
From 36 Exposures To 3600
How To Sort Digital Photos
Core Marketing/Communications Flow Chart
Primer on the Reason for Requirements
If don’t know what you are building
you will build it

  

File Naming so You Can Find Your Work

What could be more boring than a discussion about naming files? What could be more frustrating than looking for a critical file you that randomly named “The memo I wrote on tues.doc”? There must be a better way. Ready? Follow these simple rules and you’ll save at least 125.87 hours next year.

RULE 0:  Make sure Windows is set to ‘Show Extensions for Known File Types.”

Why? For some reason known only to Bill Gates the default is not show extensions. Extensions tell the computer which program to use to open the file. This is very difficult, especially when downloading and uploading. In addition, some programs show the extensions anyway which is confusing. So open a file window and go to “Tools > Folder Options > View (tab) > and uncheck the option for “Hide Extensions for Know File Types.” Click OK.

RULE 1: Don’tUseSpacesOrSpecialCharactersInFileNames._Instead_Use_Underscores_or-dashes.

Why? You should only use A-Z, a-z, 0-9, and - _ in file names along with a . because

  •  If you use them on the web or a network share they will link properly without special characters being added to the name.
  •  The file name will work on any computer or operating system.

RULE 2: Make all file names begin with a class or client name in all caps.

Examples:  SYNE (for synergetic), USDC (for Union Station DC) or FORM (for a form) or MEMO (for a memo). Why caps? Because all your files will sort correctly and it visually delineates the client or function from the rest of the name.

RULE 3: Continue the file name with a short but clear description.

Example: SYNE_ResourceGuideAd… Why? Because you want to easily find the file by name when you go looking for it.

RULE 4: Continue the file name with the date in computer sort order.

Example: SYNE_ResourceGuideAd_090501… Why? Because by putting it in Year/Month/Day format it will sort correctly. And, equally as important, it places a date in the file name since the system level creation and modification dates may change, particularly if a file is backed up or restored.

RULE 5: Continue the file name with a version if necessary.

Example: SYNE_ResourceGuideAd_090501_v01…  Why? Notice we used 01 instead of 1 so it will short correctly up to 99 versions (instead of 1, 11, 2, 12). Many of you create numerous drafts of your documents. This keeps them sorted in correct order by date and version in your file window.

RULE 6: Make sure the file has the correct extension.

Example: SYNE_ResourceGuideAd_090501_v01.doc   Why? By showing extensions you have to enter it yourself. This is particularly important for the new Microsoft office documents which now have new extensions (docx instead of doc).

If you follow these rules you should end up with:

  • SYNE_ResourceGuideAd_090501_v01.doc
  • SYNE_ResourceGuideAd_090501_v02.doc
  • SYNE_ResourceGuideAd_090502_v01.doc
  • SYNE_ResourceGuideAd_090502_v02.doc
  • Etc.

Folder Naming and Versioning

 

What could be more boring than a discussion about naming folders? What could be more frustrating than looking for a critical folder among dozens folders named “New Folder?” There must be a better way. Ready? Follow these simple rules and you’ll save at least 142.31 hours next year.

RULE 1: Don’t Use Special Characters In Folder Names

You should only use A-Z, a-z, 0-9, and - _  and a space in folder names. Why?  The folder name will work on any computer or operating system.

RULE 2: Like files, start folder names with a client or function.

Examples:  SYNE (for synergetic), USDC (for Union Station DC) or FORM (for a form) or MEMO (for a memo). Why caps? Because all your files will sort correctly and it visually delineates the client or function from the rest of the name.

RULE 3: Continue the folder name with the date in computer sort order, YYMMDD.

Example: SYNE 090501... Why? Because by putting it in Year/Month/Day format it will sort correctly. And, equally as important, it places a date in the folder name since the system level creation and modification dates may change, particularly if a file is backed up or restored.

RULE 4: Continue the folder name with a short but clear description.

Example: SYNE 090501 Resource Guide Ad... Why? Because you want to easily find the folder by name when you go looking for it.

RULE 5: In each project folder create folder named _OldVersions

Why?  It is good to keep only active files in your primary folder. This makes it difficult to accidently open an older file which can, of course, cause problems. As you make newer versions drag the old ones into the _OldVersions folder. Why does it start with a _? That way it will always stay at the top of the file list.

RULES 6-7: NEVER, UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY, OPEN A FILE FROM THE MOST RECENTLY USED FILE LIST.

Why?  Many times list is outdated or may point to an older version. Always save to a specific folder and open files from a specific folder. If you do use the MRU list, immediately ‘Save As’ to a specific location.

RULES 8-9: NEVER EDIT OR WORK ON A FILE DIRECTLY FROM AN EMAIL ATTACHMENT.

Why? If you receive a critical file make sure you download or save it locally before editing. If you do not do this you may (and probably will, lose your changes in a very hard to find temporary folder that automatically clears files.

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