How to organize and name folders and files in Google Drive

Learn five best practices for storing and naming files and folders in Google Drive.

"data-credit =" Illustration: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic "rel =" noopener noreferrer nofollow ">   Google Drive logo (center, bottom), with three folder icons in different arched angles (above it left) and three icons of a document (in upper right arc)

Illustration: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic

When your organization makes the transition to Google Drive for storage, you have the opportunity to make changes to the legacy storage structure and file naming practices. If you simply move your folders and files from a local server to Google Drive, your organization and team lose the opportunity to have a useful conversation about how people work on documents as a team.

SEE: G Suite: Tips and Tricks for Business Professionals (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Talk about each of these five best practices with your team while moving to Google Drive. Identify one person for each of the key areas of your organization to work with colleagues to move items to Google Drive. A better structure makes it easy for team members to find files while browsing folders, while the best names help people find files in Google Drive search results.

1. Different people? Different shared drive

In general, create a new shared drive when you identify that a different group of people needs to share files. When the same group of people starts working together on a different project, consider a new folder within the same shared drive. This helps minimize the amount of shared drives that people who work together should check to find a file.

2. Structure: folders and files

  • Seek to balance the number of folders and files. Almost nobody wants to click (or touch) through a long sequence of folders nested in other folders. And almost nobody wants to browse an extremely long list of files.
  • Avoid extremes. Some people create a new folder when file lists require more than one screen to display; However, long lists of files may make sense when you have a folder full of many similar items, such as images.
  • Talk about your computer to determine how to group files. In many cases, it makes sense to group items by customer (who), operational function (why), project (what), location (where) or time (when).
  • Make sure people know the preferred folder hierarchy of your organization. For example, if the organization prioritizes "who" over "when," the top-level folders must have customer names, and within each client folder there are folders with years.

3. Denomination of not knowing anything

When naming a document, make sure the name is clear enough so that a person who does not know anything about the document has at least a general idea of ​​what the content of the document might be. In other words, if I didn't know anything about the document, would the name give you a precise idea of ​​the content of the document?

4. Named version v. Make a copy

Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides are compatible with named versions. When you need to update a document created last year to use it this year, you can make your edits and then name the new version. Named versions of a file help eliminate file clutter due to multiple file names "-version2" or "v2".

G Suite applications also include the ability to make a copy. When you want to adapt the contents of a document – for another computer, another customer or another purpose – use the Make a copy command.

5. Include standard dates

For projects where a date matters, you can include the date within the name of the file or folder, as appropriate. This facilitates the search for relevant items for a specific date, even if those files were edited later.

Use the international date format standard, with the first four-digit year, the second two-digit month and the last two-digit day. Be sure to include a & # 39; 0 & # 39; before any month or date less than 10. For example, 2019-02-03 would indicate a relevant item by February 3, 2019. Some people prefer to skip the hyphens, so the dates in the names change from 2019-02- 03 to 20190203. Any of the formats will work, but will be consistent.

When creating a folder, include descriptive text with one year. For example, people are more likely to recognize a folder called 2019-Client-Project or Client-Project-2019 than a folder called 2019, although both may be within a hierarchy of client folders. An effective folder name identifies the contents of the folder without the context of the folder hierarchy.

Your experience

What standards does your organization use for shared drives, folder structures and file names? How often do people in your organization review or review these practices? What other folder and file practices have been useful? Let me know, either in the comments below or on Twitter ( @awolber ).

See also

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