File Management: Best Practices

A. Keep a backup

  • The most basic tenet of effective file management is to have two copies of every file you create, in two separate places. Thus if one becomes lost or damaged, you still have the second copy as a backup.

B. Name your files in a logical and reasonable fashion.

  • The name final2.doc really won’t mean too much to you by the end of the semester. It is best to name files using letters and numbers only. If a file will be used on a PC, never use / or . in the file name, although – is okay. Avoid spaces in files that will be used on the web. Consider how you want a series of files organized when you name them. Either start all similar files with the same first letters to group them, or name them individually, and add numbers to the end of each file to differentiate between different versions.

C. Always know where you are saving a file.

  • Check the path the computer is going to use EVERY time you save a file.

D. Always save your file before printing

  • If there is a problem with printing, it can prevent you from saving changes

E. It is best to work on a copy of the file on the local hard disk.

  • Save your changes to that file frequently, and then copy that file to your personal file storage periodically, keeping an archive of older editions. Multiple versions means that if you do irreparable damage to the current file, you can go back to the last saved version, and reconstruct.


  • Removable storage devices are very convenient, inexpensive, and portable. However they can be lost, and the media with which they are created does wear out eventually. The data, for instance, can also become corrupted, and it may only be partially recoverable. If you use writable cd’s, please be sure to back them up on an additional media or network server, replace them yearly, and keep them in a protective case in order to keep dirt and dust from getting into the disk and scratching the media.


  • Bates College has provided every student, faculty and staff with at least 10 MB of network storage space for personal files. The space is located on Abacus, but can most easily be accessed by going through Paris, which is a server that allows you to view your Abacus files directly (no UNIX commands required!) You might think of it is a giant virtual floppy disk that follows you around campus on the network. It is backed up nightly, so files may be recovered, although the process for recovery is not instantaneous, nor automatic, and a request for such should not be considered unless it is critical to your success at Bates. All network services at Bates College must be serviced at regular intervals, so there will be short periods of time when Paris will be unavailable.



  • The public labs at Bates College all have special system administrative software on them that resets them after they are rebooted. Therefore, any files left on a public lab computer MAY NOT BE THERE after the machine has been restarted. You should work from a copy of the file on the local hard drive (NEVER THE DESKTOP FOR LAB MACHINES) and then transfer your files to Paris or a memory stick or writable cd frequently, in case the machine crashes, or loses power unexpectedly.

If you have your own computer then saving a copy of a file to the hard drive on your personal computer is a good backup. Don’t let it be your only copy, because even hard drives can fail!