How do you clean house?

I’m in the process of migrating from a Windows XP to Ubuntu and I find I have become quite a packrat over the years. I’m at a loss as to what to do.

How long do you keep:

  1. Client files?
  2. Email correspondence?
  3. Financial Spreadsheets?

and other documents you use to track to your business?

I am thinking that I may want to summarize work done for past clients within their contact file so I know who they are, what I did for them, and what resulted, and what they paid. Is it necessary to keep backups of work performed for them? Especially heavy-weight stuff like photos and such?

Maybe two years since the last change, if I don’t need it for my own personal reference or for example code. It’s not something I schedule, either…just whenever I feel like dusting off some digital cobwebs.

  1. 10 years?
  2. 20 years? maybe longer? it’s actually a good diary of your life and day to day interactions with people
  3. by law it could be up to and over 5 years but check the law for your country

When it comes to business documents there are normally laws but a good guide is 5-10 years.

How big is your current hard drive? How big will your next one be?

Seriously, no need to spend time on cleaning up. Just copy the files over and let them rot in a folder for 2 years. Then delete.

Of course you need a backup process that keeps these things forever. If you use online servers for this, you solve the problem again with Harddrive growth.

HTH, Jochen

Missed your reply ScallioXTX. The external hard drive sounds like a good idea. I am always thinking that some day a client will want a press release based on the one he used 5 years ago. sigh:rolleyes:

Ewww. I hope it isn’t ten years. That’s how far back my files go now and I REALLY want to get rid of some of them!

What do you keep? Do you keep everything?

For instance, one of my clients sends me huge photo files which I have to save to disk to optimize and resize. So, I have the enormous email, the full-sized photos in his client files, as well as the ones that I’ve optimized. What would you keep from all of this?

I tried archiving his client file in a zip file. It took nearly an hour to open again! And he’s not the only one. :eek:

Disk is cheap. DVDs are cheaper.

Everything current is on our file server - RAID5. I have a semi-annual task for my VA to archive everything older than 1 year to DVD - 3 copies. Sure, it takes a while, but VAs are cheap, and she likes to keep busy.

I’m thinking about re-archiving every 5 years just to be safe. You never know when you’ll need something.

@ Shyflower

great work, that is really good job by you.
you create your own database, which is very important

I keep everything I’ve ever done with clients; paperwork, contracts, emails, any content they sent me (CDs, photos etc). Nothing gets deleted or thrown away. Electronic stuff can be easily archived and placed on removable media, while really old paperwork gets boxed up, sealed in a bin-liner and put in the attic. Alternatively I suppose old paperwork could be scanned and just the electronic copy kept.

I just like to have peace of mind that should any issues arise with a previous job (no matter how far back), I have the paper trail to show exactly what was said, what was agreed and who supplied what.

I do it like shadowbox. Nothing gets thrown away. I have files that are ten years old. They’re no longer on my computer but nicely organized in a folder archive system. Once a year all that stuff is gzipped and the data burnt onto a rewritable DVD. I don’t throw any of that away.

This has always been my practice as well. I guess I should just continue to follow it. So a follow up question if nobody minds –

How long do you keep something before you put it on removable media? I’m thinking a year should be okay. Opinions please. :juggle:

Since those are just duplicates one of them is redundant. I would either delete the e-mail or the files from the client file (e-mail is probably the preferred option here to can)

Interesting questions. I’ve been thinking the same this weekend while I did some house cleaning :slight_smile:

I decided I would keep those at least so long as the project worked on is “live”. Since I build website this is easy to establish, but for other area’s this may be more of a gray area.
Even when the project is not live anymore I decided to keep the files for 5 more years. After that I’ll send the client any files I still have on the project and remove my local copies (never done that, but it’s the plan :))
That’s even more than I say I’ll do in my terms, because those just state that once I deliver a project the client is responsible for storage of said project.

I immediately remove any e-mails I’ve dealt with that I’m sure I won’t need later. Like e-mails from a client asking to fix a typo; I’m sure I’ll never have to revisit those, nor does it have any nostalgic value.
Other e-mails I just archive and let gmail worry about disk space.

This may also depend on the country you’re in. Here in the Netherlands for example you’re obliged to keep those for at least 7 years. So I keep them at least 7 years :slight_smile:

Depends, I find that quite a lot of documents are outdated really soon. Like files for an idea you had and abandon later. Most of these files are useless, so I just can those.

That’s all built-in to my custom written CRM/Invoice management system.

I think it’s a good service and shows a lot of goodwill to clients if you can still re-deliver a something you did for them years ago. With the prices of hard disks so extremely low now it’s also easy to get an external hard drive of say 1 or 2 TB and put all files on there. Just connect the drive to your box when you really need it; the rest of the time just store it somewhere else where doesn’t sit in the way but is still easy accessible.