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Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive
4

Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

(OP)
Hello everyone,

Quick question. What do you all think of having a business’s projects archive as printing and digital backups versus no printing and digital backup only?

If I was getting a business set up and you were going to work there using your stamp to stamp drawings, would you prefer there be an employee that prints out the submittals and files it away somewhere or would you think that was overkill and want it to be digital only?

Pros and cons of digital only is that it’s easier and cheaper than doing both BUT if an IT guy gets disgruntled he can delete your server and walk out and you lose everything. Pros and cons of doing both are that you’re far less likely to lose everything but it is more labor/expense.

Thoughts? How is your company handling this?

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

For the last 4 or 5 years, all my records have been digital. Any correspondence is scanned by a small Fujitsu Scansnap scanner. I have two holes in my system. I don't have an IT guy and don't have sequential backups. My backup is the current state of all files. I don't have off site backup; I have two copies SDD portable drives, one goes into a 'firesafe' and the other is on the desk. The little one in the firesave is an M.2 SDD portable.

My Work for the last 25 years:




My drawings are in another Partition and backed up the same way.

I have a small shredder to get rid of the paper.


Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

If you go all digital, just make sure that you have back-ups. If not in the cloud, than at least on media in which copies can be kept at a second location (for catastrophe protection) like a bank safety deposit box or in a fireproof lock-box in a storage unit.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

I find it important to set up files first. When a new project comes in, I select the Client, and choose the next sequential project number (a 4 digit number, eg. 0043) and add a '-' to the number and then the project name. The name would be similar to "0043-Some_Project_Name". I create this in the browser and copy the name.

I then create a project sub-directory in the "Client_Name" directory using the same name. I also have a client project list that I add an entry using the same "0043-Some_Project_Name". The project sub-directory, and project list entry is created at the same time as the browser project name is created using the same paste function. That way, all project and browser files have the same name.

The eMail for the project is copied into the browser file folder and any attached files are then copied into the project sub-directory. For really small projects I just use the project sub-directory. For medium projects I use the following sub-sub-directories:
  • 00-Archive
  • 01-Corr
  • 02-Drawings
  • 03-Photos
  • 04-E_Drawings
  • or whatever you want...
If there are revisions to the project then the sub-sub-directory becomes Rev_01, Rev_02, etc. and the above are copied into the revision sub-sub-directory.

If it is a large project, then I have about 10 or 12 of the 00-Archive, etc... folder titles.

These directories are contained in template directories for medium and large projects and I just cut and paste them into the new project sub-directory and delete any folders not used. After doing this a few times, it becomes a 'no brainer'.

It's best that you set up a methodology to start with... I've used the above for about 20 years and it works well (for me).

Once the project is completed, I move the project folder to the 9999-Completed folder.

I back up each part of the work I do to a USB stick, as it's done. At the end of the day, I use a program called FreeFileSync to copy the days work to my two portable drives, and remove the ASUS Arion M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and put it in the 'fire safe'. Done like a 'turkey'.

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

For my one client, I have over 570 projects and the completed projects are in a separate sub directory,and these are further separated into groups of 100 projects.



with the individual folders in these sub-directories (image cropped so project name not shown).

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

I know of a company where a partner came in on the weekend and loaded up file cabinets into a truck and started a competing business basically down the street. Arson, water, and any number of liquid adhesives are available to those wishing to hurt a business.

That said, I have taken advantage of a Wiki as a "file cabinet." While destruction of the server could still put a dent into things, it allows many-to-many links between various bits of information and includes versioning. However, data management is often like a pet - it matters more what you feel you can get along with as much as what capabilities it has.

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

I've been all-digital for the last 12 years. Everyone has their own flavour; the important thing is that it works for you.

I have a master project list which is a spreadsheet of sequential project numbers in the leftmost column, then the client name, then the name of the project, then a status column (e.g. "quoted", "dead", "in process", "waiting for information from X", "invoiced", and of course, "paid"), and accounting uses an expansion of that list with more columns to include dates and PO numbers and invoice numbers. Our project numbers also have the project manager encoded into them, so that if someone knows that our company did a particular project and they have our project number, any of us can pin down who's responsible for it immediately. (everyone keeps their own files)

Every client has a subfolder (same names as on the master project list), and every client folder has a subfolder whose name starts with the project number and then the name of the project, which could be anything but it's the same name as in that spreadsheet. Within that project folder, at a minimum, there is a quotation, and a cost-tracking spreadsheet, and whatever project files are associated with the project. The quotation, the cost-tracking sheet, and any project files that would be considered deliverables have the project number as the first few digits of the filename, and that project number is of course written into the document itself - this way, the project can always be tracked back, even if someone only has the slimmest of information about it. If they have my project number, I can look it up in the spreadsheet and find out where it is and what it's called. If they know who built it and what it's called but don't have the file number ("I seem to remember that you did project ABC. Do you have any records of doing that?"), I have a fighting chance of finding it.

If there is a subsequent revision to an earlier project ... the original file stays as is, and a copy of it gets made in the original folder and the name gets changed to include a "R1" or "R2" or some other suitable revision designation, and the quoting and invoicing are based on the original project number with that revision designation added to it. This way you are able to track down later revisions in case someone looks up something based upon an earlier one (because it's in the same folder), and it's easy to answer questions like "I found this file from 10 years ago. Is this the latest revision of <whatever the project is>".

The bottom line is that it has to work for YOU, so by all means take ideas presented here and run with them. Be prepared for situations like looking up past projects, keeping track of revisions, keeping track of dates at which someone (including yourself) needs to do something, keeping track of what's been invoiced and who has (or hasn't) paid their bills, and so forth.

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

I should add that frequent back-ups are essential, and that includes off-site back-ups and multiple technologies that aren't always connected to the internet and aren't all in the same physical building. My routine back-ups are to a thumb drive (which is only ever plugged into a computer while in the process of copying files). Every now and again that thumb drive gets copied to a hard disk on a separate computer, every now and again that thumb drive itself gets locked up somewhere and I start using another one (and I swap the two from time to time), and we've also got a cloud-based back-up solution.

I have had external hard drives and thumb drives fail and become unreadable without warning. Assume that this will happen. It's unlikely to happen to two of them at the same time that aren't plugged into a computer, especially if they are in different physical locations. Only ever erase the contents of one back-up drive if you know you have another one that's up-to-date and not plugged into a computer, and you are about to make a second back-up.

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

Quote (I should add that frequent back-ups are essential)


Set your software if you can so that it automatically created a backup every 5 minutes or whatever you can afford to lose. I think my Libreoffice is set for 2 minutes and my Bricscad is set for 5...

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

And if I ever do work outside the home, I keep the data on an encrypted thumb drive and an encrypted laptop harddrive. My home desktops are not encrypted.

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

There are certain other considerations, having to do with actual CAD or other applications' files; you may need to have backups of the software that created and can read those files. When PTC bought Mathsoft, they decided to create a new version, Mathcad Prime, which is wholly incompatible with the previous version of Mathcad, thus requiring a fairly tedious conversion process to get older files to be usable in the new version, often with massive incompatibilities that require lots of manual patching.

In a previous job, we kept a microVAX alive for more than 15 years because it was the only platform that ran a compiler for the version of ADA we used in some flight software in a product. Luckily, the software had sufficient flight hours that most of the critical operational bugs had already been encountered and the microVAX eventually died a natural death with no impact on the program, which continued on for another 10 years before the military decommissioned the product permanently.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

Printing and storing paper is quite expensive - you can buy a lot of professional server backup for a fraction of the cost. Plus retrieving data is cumbersome and then how do you send a plan to a client or someone? Scan it?
Plus all the software files.

If you design a paper storage, you deal with combustible material. fire burns paper. but water from sprinklers or the fire department also destroys your files. You would only store data on paper if they are not important. if data are important, someone would have digitized them.

There is no reason for an existing business to still us paper, even if they started with paper in the old days. but for a new business in 2021, no reason at all.

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

Due to paper density, packed paper in filing cabinets, that are closed, can withstand a 'bunch of burn'. Some fire insurance claims can be void, if the cabinet is not closed. All my stuff is digitised. I have a couple of horiz filing cabinets down the basement that haven't been opened in likely 20 years.

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

Don't worry about water damage, fire fighters usually limit themselves to 300gpm and a few minutes per room smile

Burnt on the outside only, and the rest soaky wet. After the fire you just hang each sheet (or what is left) on a cloth line hoping it doesn't fall apart or the ink washes away. Ideally before it becomes a moldy hazmat issue. I'm sure the plans will be in excellent condition!

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

I too am all digital.
Have the computer itself and two backups.
1) Network attached drive
2) Google Drive

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

There are actually 2 issues here, not one:
  1. Data preservation
  2. Data authentication
Everybody's answer above focuses on "preservation". Nobody has answered about "authentication". I'm not really well versed in the second part, either, but it's a major factor that you should consider if you are ever faced with legal or regulatory problems.

Simple scenario: "Prove that it was actually YOU who stamped this document, and not one of your employees".
If you can't produce a piece of paper with ink and your hand-written signature, then you will have to go demonstrate the integrity of your digital signature authentication - as it was authenticated at the time. If it was 10 years ago, that means you have the certificate file you used to authenticate your digital signature 10 years ago.

Since I don't claim to be very knowledgeable about electronic authentication in general, I won't tell you what I think you should do. I probably don't do a perfect job myself in this area. Which is why I still use paper and wet-ink signatures.

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

I've never been concerned about data authentication... just me here, but I've had two incidents of this in the last couple of years. One was a set of documents that I'd revised, and the non-revised documents went forward (a accident) the other, the fabricator modified the sealed documents to change the issue from "Preliminary" to "Issued for Construction". The latter was more serious,IMHO, and was resolved by informing the Client that this should not be done; it's not happened since.

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

When a PE regulator or a lawyer shows up at your door, it's too late to start *then*.

If the stakes aren't very high on the plans you stamp, this rare possibility may not concern you. If the stakes are high, welllll.

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

I would tell anyone who uses google drive as a backup that that is a huge mistake. It is near impossible to help from google. I have microsoft clouds service and that is slow but I'll get whatever back. There are better and more responsive services but I wanted sharepoint. It is a nightmare when you want something back and are held up for weeks. Anyone who uses google drive should just "accidentally" delete something and see how long it takes for google to fix that problem for you.

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

We're all digital as well. We use Google Drive which saves multiple backups and previous versions. We also backup our files on an external hard drive every couple of months as an additional precaution.

I once worked for a company that was subject to a ransomware attack. They lost all of their files and did not pay for the ransom. Luckily they kept paper copies of all final work. I'm hoping our external backup works similarly.

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

Digitial vs paper is easy, nobody uses paper anymore. Welcome to Y2k.

Unless you're challenging your own data's authenticity then I wouldn't worry over it. Regulators cannot challenge it after acceptance without looking extremely foolish.

Cloud backup for engineering is generally avoided for IP protection purposes. Most companies today set up MS365 and other cloud-based software to protect and save data locally on their own servers bc you lose legal protections sharing it on Google, MS, etc.

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

Server systems can be setup to prevent any one person from having full reign and wiping drives willy - nilly, so I think you don't have to worry about that. Having off site backup performed regularly (normally automatically) mitigates the damage of someone putting an axe through the server racks. The cloud vs non-cloud option is up to you and the lawyers I think. Your server room itself will have some security measures as well (e.g. cameras, locks,) with a gaseous fire suppression system if you want to get fancy =)

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

Quote (CWB1)

Regulators cannot challenge it after acceptance without looking extremely foolish.

Oh, I must hold my tongue, now.

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

2
Without being political, I think regulators are born, and trained to be foolish. pipe

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

Just added another item to my toolkit (discovered it this AM). I have a new project where they are using CFS purling and attaching to them. Looking up TEKS stuff, taking a Windows 'snapshot' of it and sending myself an eMail with the product data. This then goes into the project file as part of the notes. Example of clip sent by eMail, below:

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

Versioning control software as part of the storage, where there is a single file you select and it allows access to all the revisions, is rather handy. Once set up, it tracks all the changes, who did what and when, doesn't allow accidental erases or moves and more. Once you've used it the advantages become clear.

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

Agree wholeheartedly with LionelHutz, only caveat is that once you're used to such a system having to go back to folders and renaming files can be frustrating.

My goto for single person projects is Fossil, it can manage a folder structure, as well as provide file changes, comments and a wiki. The command line interface can be a challenge for some things though.

EDMS Australia

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

It would be nice to have versioning software, but my storage just retains the latest copy. Even with drafts... for a legal matter I may have six drafts, each one recorded. Before it is published, I delete previous drafts... for legal reasons; they are not recoverable. For any of my photos, with my last employer IT department made it a habit of reducing all photos to a smaller size. I always retained all my original photos, including out of focus or poorly exposed, on my own hardware. Part of my report stipulated that all photos were retained in their original state are available (by court order if necessary). Other than for programming, I've not found it necessary to keep earlier versions.

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

The legal reason being that it can't be used in discovery against you which then potentially reduces your lawyers bill?

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

Yup... drafts are 'gone'...

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

Versioning control can still be handy for single files in a multi-person organization. You get the control over who could change it, the possibility to enter some extra data about it, track access etc. The entered data about a file sure helps search CAD drawings. Once you've had it, going back is painful.

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

Regarding Versioning control

We are a bit old fashion, every drawing is still printed and signed (by up to six staff) with red pen. We then keep the hard copy. We also add the signature to the CAD file and keep a CAD file version of each drawing revision.

It would be nice to stop signing the hard copy but have not found nice way to sign the CAD files.

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

I haven't printed a drawing in decades... my late wife used to complain about my D sized plotter in the livingroom, so I had to move it downstairs, and I haven't printed on it since. That was 3 years back... I apply my seal and signature directly to my cad files.

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

@KevinNZ: that sounds like an enormous amount of work to authenticate (although, we are likely coming from different practice areas and regions). How/When is the electronic document actually locked and then signed & locked? Or is this done simultaneously by each party?

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

The release cycle that would work is to send out preliminary prints/files for review. Indicate approval. Incorporate the signatures on the electronic version and lock it. Print that with the electronic signatures and hand sign and vault that. Downside - they don't check to see if the electronic version matches what they reviewed, but at least there are no required changes to the electronic version after they physically signed the print. If they don't like that version the electronic version is deleted, changes made, and the review repeats.

I've seen too many times where drawings got reviewed, everyone says "Great!", the drawings go back to drafting to have the signature or revision blocks updated and the drafter makes an environmental change, that alters the view status, and is so excited, just creates the output files and they get put into the vaulting system and released. It's lazy on their part to not force the views from "Follow Environment" to "Remove Hidden Lines" but they do so anyway, and it's more likely when there is some major production issue that needs the changed drawing NOW NOW NOW!

What I have not seen is a system that embeds the capability to examine differences. I used to do this on PDF format files via Photoshop. Start with a black layer, import the old version to an overlay layer and use a layer filter to change it to 100% red 50% transparent and then the new version to a new layer with a layer filter of 100% green 50% transparent.

All the matching items are baby-puke yellow, the solely new items, green, and the solely old items red. Selecting by color can find even a single pixel difference.

Using Photoshop, if a drafter has moved a view or detail then the reviewer can shift the matching feature to see that they do or do not actually match - a feature most drawing compare software cannot handle. Likewise if a view or detail is moved to a different sheet of the drawing.

With practice even a jam-packed J-size drawing sheet can be checked for changes in under a minute, assuming the drafter didn't get too crazy with nudging items around.

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

The company I worked for, about 10 years) had a fairly 'strict' drawing and layer standard. It was different than mine. If I had to do any significant drawings, I would turn the cad files over to one of the drafters. A lot of details were not modified to their layer system. I often did preliminary layouts and design in cad. My sketches are terrible and it was as fast for me to do them up in cad.

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Print Archive vs All-Digital Archive

Quote (333OnlyHalfEvil)


Hello everyone,

Quick question. What do you all think of having a business’s projects archive as printing and digital backups versus no printing and digital backup only?

I am playing with OnShape here at home. I believe companies are starting to use it for serious work. It seems capable enough. If my data is up on the cloud on a computer not under my control, I need to download something. If I cannot get at the parametric CAD model, my next choice would be a set of drawings, complete with full GD&T. This is how you protect yourself from CAD vendors who adopt new business models.

I am not paranoid about PDF. There is all sorts of Free Software that supports it. I am running GNU/Linux here at home, and Adobe no longer supports us. This is not a problem.

I spent fifteen years on a drafting board. If your valuable data is stored on paper, that paper must be protected. It is difficult to back up paper archives. If the paper fits through your scanner, you are back managing PDF files.

--
JHG

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