Whether producing 2-3 tracks a week, or 2-3 a month, there will come a time when you need to begin archiving older projects.
Archiving has several benefits, the most obvious being you can claim back some hard disk space by moving projects to external hard drive or cloud backup services.
Use Colour Coding or Tagging
I use tags in macOS to visually reference the status of a project.
Amber means ‘Active’ (in progress), and green means ‘Live’ (uploaded to libraries and ready to license online).
Once a project is tagged as green, it’s completed, which means it can be archived.
How often should you Archive?
In the beginning, I studiously archived projects over six months old every couple of months. Now I do it immediately, purely because it means I’m always organised and projects are ‘triple locked’.
The two cloud services are ‘offsite’ backups. I use the second cloud service as a ‘backup of the backup’, giving me extra security should the first fail. Cloud space is so cheap these days it’s worth it for peace of mind.
As an added benefit, they also allow me to access my files from any computer, from anywhere in the world.
You may prefer to ZIP the project files, if you do, make sure everything is there that you’ll need when you want to access the session in the future – such as audio files that are referenced by your DAW.
Organise your old projects into folders. I sort by year and genre. For each year, I create a master folder, then within the master folder I sort my projects into genres. See the image at the beginning of this article for an example.
Old Projects and Potential Issues
If you’re well organised, it should be easy to find and open old projects.
However, one potential issue is that plugins used in an old session no longer work, or have been replaced by a newer version (Kontakt 5 to Kontakt 6 for example).
I’m afraid there isn’t much you can do to avoid this.
Theoretically, you could bounce each track in your project so that you have an audio copy as backup, but one downside to this is that it increases the total project size dramatically. Another is you’ll often need to be able to edit the MIDI, and audio files may not be much help.
For this reason, I’d advise keeping old plugins on your system for as long as they still work, even if they have been superseded.