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System for naming/archiving files

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by LEGEND, Nov 8, 2013.


    LEGEND Member

    Since I started working in the sign industry, I've been having some problems with naming files and finding previous jobs done before I came in. I've had systems set up before in other jobs (newspaper, direct mailer, etc.) that can't be applied to a fast-paced sign shop.

    So I have two questions for you guys;

    1. How do you name/save your files?

    Currently, the idea I'm going for is: "1311_client name_project name"
    1311 meaning Nov. 2013, the rest is self explanatory.

    2. How do you archive your folders?

    Currently I'm doing:


    Anything you guys can share is appreciated. Thanks.
  2. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

    Nov 11, 2008
    We have a central computer we use as a server, on that computer we have everything organized by year, so it gos

    2013 > B > Bob's Tires > awning sign > awning rev_2.cdr

    it's not perfect, but it works 95% of the time, the only issue we really have is if a file gets filed under the customers name instead of the business name, for example we might have a file for Bob's tires and for Bob smith, depending on what information we were given at the time of order.

    I'm a huge believer in the need for a central server, we have a total of 9 pcs in our shop, it would be a nightmare trying to remember which pc certain files are on.
  3. omgsideburns

    omgsideburns Very Active Member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Everything is alphabetical, not by date. If we organize by date it's in the customers folder to organize their projects better. Pretty much put them in the order you'd want to look for them by..

    "Who ordered it? When did they order it? What was it?"

    LEGEND Member

    Okay, so every year a new folder for "Bob's Tires" is made? Just curious. I'm looking to do this for the server, not just one computer. Thanks!

    LEGEND Member

    Same here.It was previously setup as: date > client > order and I'm trying to flip the client to first position because clients will come in saying they want "the same order" from 3-4 years and it seems annoying to search into each year first, then client.

    LEGEND Member

    That new plan sounds like a good idea. I've been running the shop for less than a year so I'll wait a bit longer to try and move into doing work orders by PDFs but it's definitely something to look into.
    ...and I'd say 65-75% of the jobs don't provide us with POs so that's why I don't bother including them in the file name. but "Customer name_11.8.2013_office signs" seems to be similar to what I was going for, so that's good.
  7. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

    Nov 11, 2008
    Yes each year would have a Bobs tires folder (as long as they ordered from us in that year) it makes sense for our workflow to do it this way, we get a lot of phone calls "same as you did a few years ago for us"
  8. StarSign

    StarSign Active Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Southern Utah
    Folder for Year--Customer Name--Work Order #--Description
  9. The Vector Doctor

    The Vector Doctor Very Active Member

    Aug 15, 2005
    How about a folder for the customer name. Inside of that folder, have each job with the name of your invoice. And inside that folder you can have multiple files (working files, art, final, notes, fonts, etc)

    Attached Files:

  10. fresh

    fresh Very Active Member

    May 16, 2011
    We use consecutive job numbers, and reference them on our paper work order and invoice. In the past, the job number was the same as the invoice number, which worked 99% of the time. Now that we use SignVox, we indicate the job number in the item description.

    We have computer folders of 100 jobs, so a folder named "100-199", another folder named "200-299", and so on. When we first save a file, we name it in sequence. So if the last saved file is number 4236, I'll name this one 4237. All the related documents are saved with this file name. If I have multiple parts that need to be saved in different files, I'll name it 4237cards or 4237truck, etc.

    The down sides of this method are you have to either look up an old invoice or pull their paper file to find old job numbers, and sometimes we forget to write the number down and have to search through the computer files till we find the right one if we need to re-use it.
  11. GWSigns

    GWSigns Member

    Jul 26, 2013
    This is how I have started setting files up on the print server.

    The designer who was here when I started (long gone) had a system not even he understood, so finding old files is a bloody nightmare.

    I also have the same information captured in our shoptracker program so it can be traced either one of two different ways, you choose - depending on the phase of the moon and whether or not you had your Wheaties for breakfast - brain fades sometimes require an alternative way of approaching information.
  12. neil_se

    neil_se Member

    Jan 21, 2012
    Qld, Australia
    We started a new system 3-4 years ago that's been working well for us. We always include the client's name in the file name so that it can be identified in isolation (eg. sent for something outsourced, emailed, uploaded to the RIP, etc), and enough info that you know what it is from the file browser.

    > Each client has a folder with retail clients in "1 OFFS"
    > Folders within for Images, Supplied Files, Print Files, Proofs, etc
    > AI's for working files, PDF's for printing, JPG's for proofs
    > Naming structure like "Bobs Tyres_Under Awning Sign 2400x500_nov2013.pdf"
  13. ExecuPrintGS

    ExecuPrintGS Member

    Mar 21, 2013
    Hartland, WI
    Each client has their own folder, Each project goes in a sub folder with the start date on the project, Then descriptive name followed by either print (if print we put which printer) or cut.
    File paths would look like

    Thats how i do it and the guy who originally taught me did it. Not everyone here does though.
  14. The Vector Doctor

    The Vector Doctor Very Active Member

    Aug 15, 2005
    Similar? Found this image on google

    Attached Files:

  15. TammieH

    TammieH Very Active Member

    Nov 28, 2011
    Pacific NW
    Alphabetized folders with customer names.
    Then I will have sub folders for larger customers, Vehicles, Interior, Exterior or whether job specific (Community or Building)
    As far as naming files, I get as specific as possible ...I tend to have some very long file names LOL :D
  16. LEGEND

    LEGEND Member

    Story of my life.
  17. LEGEND

    LEGEND Member

    I like that, only reason I put the "1311_" first is so it's all organized by date easily.
  18. neil_se

    neil_se Member

    Jan 21, 2012
    Qld, Australia
    I figure you can always select ordering by date within explorer, whereas if you've got the date first then you can't ever order by name.
  19. jasonx

    jasonx Very Active Member

    Aug 5, 2007
    We've been in business 6 years. One downside of using customer folders and then their jobs in these sub folders it makes it hard to archive off older jobs or customers who you did work for 5 years ago but not again. This might not be a big deal now but we've processed over 10,000 orders so our old system starting getting huge and we needed to keep upgrading our storage just to have everything central.

    We now have a database system where all job information etc is stored. Our folder structure is simply the job number. The run in order so it makes it easy to archive the older jobs to another storage system in the event we need to find them. Downside is you need the database to reference the folder. You can't do it using just the customer name.

    Other problem was we have over 4000 customer folders so browsing that folder became cumbersome.

    Just sharing some information for problems you might encounter has you start to have more customers and more jobs.

    Hope that helps.
  20. Malkin

    Malkin Very Active Member

    Feb 11, 2009
    Augusta, ME

    We still have files from the bygone era of 8 or less characters only names, stored alphabetically. So for example, a job for our city (from 10-15 years back) might be saved as CTYAUG12 or AUGUSTA7 (which alphabetically are not together....)

    Modern stuff gets filed in their folder: "Augusta, City of" and then by year if it gets too ungainly.

    Going through thousands of old files to reorganize them would be a nightmare and not entirely worth the effort.
  21. Chriswagner92

    Chriswagner92 Member

    Aug 26, 2013
    We have ours set up like this:

    Public Drive > designers folders > In Progess or completed > Name > project.

    It usually works well enough that we can find what we need within a minute or two.
  22. jfiscus

    jfiscus Map Wraster

    Apr 2, 2009
    Cincinnati, OH
    As stated above, this works great: B > Bob's Tires > awning sign > awning rev_2.cdr
    However, when they order their next awning sign... you start to run into problems.

    The important piece is to have a unique identifier for all projects. You'll either have to buychase custom signshop software (we're having ours custom made currently), or do it in a spreadsheet if you're not able to afford the custom software.

    In the past I've just started a new spreadsheet every year (ie: 2013 Jobs Logo.xls)
    Every time a new job comes in put a new line item in the spreadsheet, and associate the job within that number.
    You can prefix the job# with the year (ie: 130001 as your first new job of the year) and have excel sequentially number the spreadsheet as new line items are added.
    Adding more columns with status will help you keep track of the job status and avoid missed billing or jobs getting lost.
    IIRC, the few fields we had were: ID#, Customer Name, Description (brief description of project), Date entered, Date completed, Date billed
    Put that ID# on the top of your job sheet paperwork, and go from there.

    So, it would change the filing system above to:
    B > Bob's Tires > 130540 Awning Sign > awning rev_2.cdr
  23. Kottwitz-Graphics

    Kottwitz-Graphics Very Active Member

    Sep 25, 2006
    Ridgely, MD
    This is pretty much how I do it.

    Except I don't break my customers down alphabetically.

    F:>Artwork>*Customer Name*>*project identifier*>...

    For instance, say I have a customer that has several projects (I do sub contract work for a couple of companies), it would look like this:

    F:>Joe's Graphics Warehouse>Frank's Flowers>Truck lettering>2008 Ford F150>Production file>Approved lettering layout.cdr

    Now Joe's Graphics may have a bunch of files, but for this one, I just showed Franks, which may have Banner, window lettering, truck lettering, business cards, fliers, whatever else (each one gets a new file), then under each "project", there is a folder for the proof, and approved files, which gets production files...

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