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Look at the average person’s computer and it’s likely you’ll find a desktop full of shortcuts and documents, or folders full of files that aren’t organized by name, project, or other groupings. This kind of disorganization can complicate finding the files and information you need, which could slow down your progress—or even cause you to lose an important file.

Good file management practices can help you avoid this potentiality, and give you an added layer of security and efficiency when you’re working on CAD projects.

Want to improve your file management? Here are some tips worth following during and after your training.

Use a Folder Hierarchy to Keep Projects Organized

The computer folder is one of your best tools for organization, so be sure to make good use of it throughout your CAD software training. Generally, professionals who are well-organized will use a series of folders within folders to break projects down into different components, using the same basic categories for each one. The first folder might be given a project name like “Apartment Building,” for example. Within that folder would then be folders for things like “Sketches,” “Models,” and other work that you might do for a project, with relevant files saved into each.

By taking this approach, you can make it much easier to navigate your files for any project, at any time, and always know exactly where the information you want should be. It’s a great way to remain efficient, and particularly beneficial for large projects involving many different components.

Be Cautious with File Management When Changing File Names

Computer file and folder names are more than just ways for you to identify their contents—they’re also meant to allow a computer to identify them. This means renaming a file can be complicated.

For example, you might have a file called “Tower Sketch,” which you decide to rename to “Old Tower Sketch.” The file is the same, and you will likely have no trouble remembering that. A computer program, however, can’t make that association—it can only follow precise instructions. That means that a file that links to “Tower Sketch” will not know to look at “Old Tower Sketch” after the file has been renamed.

Avoid the frustration of missing files by using a standard folder hierarchy

Avoid the frustration of missing files by using a standard folder hierarchy

This problem is known as a “broken reference,” and if you encounter it, you might have to go back through your work and rename the broken references so that the link can once again be established. To avoid this problem, be careful to keep track of any times you rename or move projects and files. Adjusting references whenever a file or folder name changes and trying to avoid changing file names too often can help you keep each project organized throughout your training and future career.

Keep a Running Backup of Your Projects to Ensure Easy Re-dos When Necessary

If you make a mistake while working on a project for a CAD course, just hitting undo and trying again is usually enough. But what happens when you discover you made a big mistake, and that you need to start fresh from an earlier point in the project?

Undoing all the intermediary steps can be time-consuming, and depending on the alterations you made, it may be quite difficult to get right back to where you were. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep your own version history of the projects you work on.

Keep your own history folder for past versions of projects to save time on changes

Keep your own history folder for past versions of projects to save time on changes

Any time you complete a version of a project, or a major milestone in its development, consider saving that file to a special “History” folder. If ever you decide you need to undo some work and start from an earlier point in development, you’ll be able to go into the folder and start right from the point you want to—no hassle required. This can be a great way to save time and stress on long projects during your studies and career.

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