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File Management & Data Handling are the processes whereby you create a suitable filing system on your computer / pendrive / cloud storage solution and also give relevant names to all of your created documents.

If you search your computer now and find any of the following items; you need to read our File Management tips and tricks:

  • Document1.doc or .docx
  • Book1.xls or .xlsx
  • New Folder

None of these file or folder names (above) provide any indication of what they are or what they contain!

In fairly common, but unfortunate circumstances, File Management and Backup Strategies can mean the difference between handing in an assignment on time and losing your work forever!

  • Naming Files

    File naming conventions are really simple - give each file a name that makes sense to you, but also includes enough clues for you to be always able to find it:

    Example 1 - Assignment (Word Document)

    You are starting your essay (first assignment) for the Level 4 Business and Computing module. You open a new Word document and immediately save it with a name that includes enough of the important information (i.e Module number / Assignment number / Draft / Final / Due Date / Your Student Number / Name or Initials).

    • UCBS4008-Assignment1-SDM (Module Number / Assignment Indicator / Your Initials)
    • UCBS4008-12013-Draft1 (Module Number / Due Date / Draft Number)
    • UCBS4008-A1-SDM-F1 (Module Number / Assignment Number / Your Initials / Final version 1)

    In each of these example document names - you provide enough information to be able to find the file. You can search for the Module Number (using Windows Search) and each of these documents will be found. Using the additional information - you will be able to easily pinpoint which is the latest version.

    Including Your Initials will make it easier to identify your files on a shared computer and will also make it easier to get your files back if you leave them on a University computer or even leave your pendrive behind (in one of the labs).

    If you re-save the document with a different Draft or Final number, each time you work on it, you will be able to work on your assignment on different computers and still know which is the latest version when you bring them all back together on your own PC.

    Example 2 - Photography Portfolio (Images)

    You have taken hundreds of photographs towards a Level 5 Photography Portfolio assignment. You transfer all of the images from your camera to your computer and they all have names like:

    • DSCF0371
    • DSCF0372

    When you come back to select the best ones - how will you easily identify them without previewing them all again?

    If you manage the file names, when you first transfer them, you will make life much easier for yourself:

    • PHOT5061-121213-Faces-R (Module Number / Photo Date / Subject Matter / Reject)
    • PHOT5061-121213-Faces-K (Module Number / Photo Date / Subject Matter / Keep)
    • PHOT5061-121213-Faces-1 (Module Number / Photo Date / Subject Matter / Grade 1)

    Each of these example image names includes the Module Number (for easy searching), the date you took the photo (for use in your analysis of, or reflection on, the project), the subject matter (because you will often takes photos of different subject matter within a single project) and an indicator of how good you think the photo is (Reject / Keep / Perfect / Numerical Scoring?).

  • Folders - Creation and Naming

    Now that your files have usable and searchable names - you also need to create folders for storing these files in.

    Even with good naming conventions, for your files, when you dump everything onto your Desktop or into a single folder - it remains difficult to visually identify documents when you are staring at hundreds of them.

    When a module is finished - it is always helpful to be able to put those files to one side. You still may need to find them, to help inform future assignments, but you don't want them cluttering up your Documents folder.

    Create a folder for each module you are studying (examples from Adult Nursing first year):

    • HWTN4001
    • HWTN4002
    • HWTN4003

    You can also include the Module Name, but this can make the folder names very long.

    Save all of the Drafts, Notes and Assignments (for each module) into the correct folder. This will make it easier to locate all of your work and will also separate each module for when you have completed them. You can also create a Notes and/or Drafts folder(s) inside each module folder, to help keep everything more organised. In the following example, I have created the HWTN4001 folder and then made a Drafts, Notes and Readings folders inside it:

    If I now save all of my HWTN4001 work, into these folders, I should never struggle to find anything related to this module.

    To create a new folder, in Windows, open My Documents (or another file storage location), right-click in the window and select New > Folder.

    Good folder naming conventions will also work for all of your personal / non-university files and will help you with your Backup Strategies.

  • Renaming Files and Folders

    Rename a File / Document

    1. Right-click on the name of the file/document that you want to rename:

    2. Select Rename.
    3. Type a new name for the file (using good naming conventions). If the file type is showing (i.e. .doc, .ppt, etc.) - make sure that you do not replace or rename this too.
    4. Hit Enter on your keyboard or Click away from the file using your mouse.
    5. The file has now been renamed.

    Rename a Folder

    1. Right-click on the name of the folder that you want to rename:

    2. Select Rename.
    3. Type a new name for the folder (using good naming conventions).
    4. Hit Enter on your keyboard or Click away from the folder using your mouse.
    5. The folder has now been renamed.
  • File Management - Useful Videos

    Files and Folders - Fundamentals

     Viewing, Ordering and Managing Files & Folders

    Moving vs. Copying Files (or folders)

     Archived File Types (.zip)

     

  • Managing Files and Folders - Top Tips

    "Thought file management was just for paper files? Think again. It's just as important to keep the files on your computer and/or mobile devices organized and up-to-date. Just as with paper files, the goal of computer file management is to ensure that you can find what you're looking for, even if you're looking for it years after its creation." ­ (from About.com)

    1. File Naming - Employ good file naming conventions. It will help ensure that you can locate anything/everything when you need it and you should know what each file is without having to open it first.

    2. Folder Naming - Employ good folder naming conventions. It is important that you know where to file your documents and how to find them later.

    3. Create a folder structure - Put folders within folders to build up your filing structure. It will help make sense of your documents and their relationship to other documents. An example would be:

    • Module Folder
      • Assignment Folder
      • Drafts Folder
      • Notes Folder
      • References Folder

    4. Get friendly with Windows Explorer - Windows Explorer is the program that most people use to view and organise files/folders on a Windows computer. It is the window that opens when you view My Computer or the Documents Library.

    Getting familiar with Windows Explorer (or an equivalent program) will allow you to proficiently locate and manage your files and folders.

    5. File as you go - Don't rely on coming back later to file something properly. Spend an extra 30 seconds now and potentially save hours later when you can't find it.

    6. Manage Your Files Everywhere - File management is not just about the files and documents on your computer - use the same strategies and conventions for all of your storage (CD, pendrive, cloud, etc.).

    7. Use Backup Strategies - Even with the perfect filing system; there is nothing to stop your computer from breaking. Keep your important files safe. See Backup Strategies (below) for more information.

    8. Clean up after yourself - Put away your finished work. When a module, document, photo is finished with or you don't expect to need it for a while - file it away somewhere safe. Consider filing it in the Cloud.

  • Backup Strategies

    The idea of Backup Strategies is very simple - it is about making and storing an extra copy of all of your important files / documents.

    It is very IMPORTANT that you do this, that you do it regularly and you do it efficiently. Not using some basic backup strategies can mean that you lose part or all of an assignment before it is due to be submitted.

    See our File & Document Backup Strategies page and the Backup Strategies - Top Tips (below).

     

  • Backup Strategies - Top Tips

    Whilst no system is perfect, the following Top Tips should help minimize any disasters that might affect your files.

    1. Backup Your Work - prior to the final push for completion of an assignment.

    2. Use the Cloud - wherever practical you should store your documents in the Cloud. This is more secure than your own computer and can be accessed from almost anywhere.

    3. Store Backups Offsite - If you have made a hard-copy backup (i.e. on an external hard drive); then do not store this in the same house / building as the original. If a major disaster happens (fire, flood, burglary) - you stand to lose both copies of your files.

    4. Archive Old Files - If you have files and folders that you do not access often (or ever), but want to keep (photos, old coursework, notes, etc.) - you can Zip them up and store in the Cloud. You can always get them back, but they won't be cluttering up your computer and they will be safe from harm.

    5. Pendrives - These should only be used for temporary storage of backup files and NEVER used as the main (or only) location for your documents/files. Pendrives break and get lost easily - if this happens - your work is lost.

    6. CDs Are Great For Backups - But… You should always store them correctly (away from direct sunlight). Never keep them with your computer. If you have important files that you need to keep for a long time (i.e. photos, certificates, etc.) make sure that you buy "Gold" CDs - these are guaranteed for up to 100 years.

    7. The Rule of Three - In the computing industry; the advice is always to keep the Original, a Backup and a backup of the Backup. This might seem a step too far, but when disaster strikes - another copy wouldn't hurt.

    8. The Computer Ate My Homework - This is not a valid excuse for not getting an assignment in on time.

    • Organise your files and folders.
    • Use suitable naming conventions.
    • BACKUP YOUR WORK.

    9. Test Your Backup - Going back to your File Copy or Backup, to find it is corrupted (won't read) is a whole new disaster. When you have backed up some files - test those files to see that they can be opened.

    10. If In Doubt - Back It Up! - Storing a spare copy of your work will take up hardly any space, is quick and easy to do and may save you from a disaster.