Skip to Main Content

Data Management Planning: Managing Data

What file was I looking for?


File Naming

File and folder nameing

  • Define a naming convention and be consistent using it, especially, if multiple people are sharing files
  • Avoid "/ \ : * ? " < > [ ] & $ in names. These characters have specific meanings in your computer's operating system that could result in misreading or deleting these files
  • Use underscores (_) not spaces to separate terms

Folder names

  • Keep names short, 15-20 characters or less
  • Use names that describe the general category of files the folder contains

File names

  • Keep names short, no more than 25 characters
  • Use names that describe the contents of the file.
  • Include a date using the format recommended by ISO 8601: YYYY-MM-DD (This is important because the date stored with a file on your computer will be changed if the file is moved to another computer)
  • Don't include the folder name in the file name unless you are sharing files and there might be confusion about which folder a file should be added to

File versions

  • Include a version number at the end of the file name such as v01. Change this version number each time the file is saved
  • For the final version, substitute the word FINAL for the version number (This is especially important if files are being shared)
  • Turn on versioning or tracking in collaborative works or storage spaces such as Wikis, GoogleDocs, or MyWebSpace
  • Use a versioning software such as Apache Subversion to automatically track versions of computer code


What about Storage?

Storage refers to preserving your data files in a secure location you can access readily. Storage systems often provide mirroring, in which data is written simultaneously to two drives. This is not the same thing as backup since alterations in the primary files will be mirrored in the second copy. There are several options for data storage, each with their own pros and cons:

  • PC/Laptop
    • Pros: Convenient for active data
    • Cons: Easily lost/stolen; fail; manual backup
  • Network
    • Pros: Automatic backup and security
    • Cons: Access/capacity limitations
  • External devices
    • Pros: Low cost; portable; easy use
    • Cons: Easily lost/stolen; fail
  • Remote/Cloud
    • Pros: Global access; collaboration
    • Cons: Security/privacy limitations
  • Physical storage (e.g. notebooks)
    • Pros: Convenient; tangible
    • Cons: Manual backup