Forums > Digital Art and Retouching > Archiving Your Work?


Paul Snyder

Posts: 89

Columbus, Ohio, US

So over the past few months I've attained a lot of client work.  Now I have a 2TB External Drive that I can backup all this work to (which I do periodically), but I was wondering how long everyone holds on to their PSD files?

Do you worry about keeping them for a long time or only for a brief period after projects are completed, etc? I obviously will keep final rendered images forever (or as long as possible), but I just wasn't sure if I should worry as much about keeping PSD's for an extended period.

Mar 21 13 05:45 pm Link



Posts: 57

Tegucigalpa, Distrito Central, Honduras

One Year.

Mar 21 13 07:20 pm Link


Mask Photo

Posts: 1441

Fremont, California, US

For my work, a 13Mpxl raw becomes a ~300MB PSD. I can fit 6,990 of those on a 2TB drive. A 2TB drive costs $100.

If I were to think about going through that drive, once full, to delete stuff, and spent 10 seconds on each image, it would take me 69,900 seconds to go through the drive and cull them all. Buying a new drive costs, maybe, 3 hours of billable time for the average retoucher... That's 180 minutes, or 10,800 seconds.

It is literally not worth your time to delete old files (by a factor of 7 in my case). Maybe if you only made $4 an hour retouching, or if your PSDs were larger than 2GB each, you'd find some savings in using your time to sift through a hard drive but as it is, no chance.
Just be sure you organize them logically when you create them, and let them all come along for the backup. Unless you're shooting lots of video, drive capacity will outrace your ability to fill it.

Mar 21 13 10:14 pm Link


Joann Empson

Posts: 430

Walnut Creek, California, US

You can automate the process of removing old files with a shell script that recursively checks the access or modification dates on image files, and then removes those that haven't been accessed or modified in over a year.

Then you can set a cron job to run the script once a month on the directory (or directories) where you have the pictures stored.

I'll write the script and post it here if you want it.

Mar 21 13 10:45 pm Link



Posts: 39245

Portland, Oregon, US

Might your clients want some input on whether you keep copies of the images or not? wink

Mar 22 13 12:01 am Link


James Croft Photography

Posts: 45

Oceanside, California, US

You should probably keep them for longer than that unless otherwise stipulated in your contract. Plus, at a minimal cost, you could potentially earn a friend for life should they lose their copies for whatever reason.

Mar 22 13 12:09 am Link


Leonard Gee Photography

Posts: 17513

Sacramento, California, US

At least as long as the statute of limitations for a contract breach or commission breach filing. But probably 1.5 to 2 times that.

Mar 22 13 09:51 am Link


Andrew Thomas Evans

Posts: 24078

Minneapolis, Minnesota, US

If you're not going back and searching though old files then I'd buy a new drive and put the other one on the shelf. It's really not worth deleting stuff, and honestly I don't like the idea of just using one drive, and would like it less if that drive was being re-written over and over again. If anything, along with saving time, you'd get a piece of mind of having a new drive going.

Andrew Thomas Evans

Mar 22 13 10:14 am Link


The Invisible Touch

Posts: 862

Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain

I do keep every job I have done since day one.. you never know when your client my need them again... I see this as another service that I provide to all my clients... BACKUP!!

Mar 22 13 11:14 am Link