File Management Part II: Miscellaneous Workflow Enhancements
There are a few other small habits you can incorporate into your workflow that can save you time in the present and/or the future.
1. Save a copy of all your installers
When you migrate to a new machine or need to reinstall a software when troubleshooting, this can save you a lot of time having to manually find each programs installer online and downloading them again. Simply keep a folder where you store all of your installers after you’ve installed the app/plugins etc.
2. Saving iterative copies (and naming them properly!)
While you work, don’t just use the “save” function, rather periodically use the “save as…” and create a new file for your project. You can do this at a set time interval (typically how “automatic back ups” work) or for each major revision. This will allow you navigate through the project history. It allows you to go back to an earlier version to retrieve data, should something have gone wrong in the current project and you didn’t notice for a long time. You don’t need to duplicate the whole project in a DAW: just the .ptx, .dpdoc, or .cbr files.
3. Maintain Change logs
Change logs are a great way to monitor a projects development over time. For example, a text document in your template’s folder can be used to track changes to the template, things that need to be changed, and feedback you’ve had while working on it. This is very powerful when combined with iterative backups as you know exactly which version has had which changes applied.
4. Batch file renaming
Both MacOS and Windows are capable of batch renaming files. This can be extraordinarily time saving and I highly recommend you learn your OS's batch renaming tools to their fullest extent.
5. Utilize Metadata
Metadata will help ensure that you are able to access a document quickly, with less searching via use of keywords and tags. This is additional data about the file rather than in the file that is searchable and useable. An example of embedded metadata in audio work is timecode embedded into a broadcast .wav file, or the artist/album name embedded via ID3 tags.
6. Have an archival system in place
Have a set method for prepping a project for storage, as well as how you want to store them. Some producers purge sessions of anything but the stripes, others leave everything in. Do you disable your plugins, VI Frames and virtual instruments? Or do you leave everything as an open session?
Having this sort of consistent method will be helpful should you ever need to go back to an older project. You’ll know what to expect in terms of time needed, as well as plugins that might prevent you from accessing it. And having a specific and organized location on your drives for archived projects make it that much easier as well.
Though more "system management" than "file management", creating a benchmark and creating logs of them are exceptionally helpful for troubleshooting. Benchmarks can help you identify if something has gone wrong and determine what the problem is. A benchmark is essentially a point of reference we can use as a standard when comparing different measurements of something, usually related to system performance.