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File Management

Tips for managing digital files by the Iowa State University Library

File management for individuals and teams

Welcome to the Iowa State University Library guide on digital file management. This guide will help you better organize your files so that they can easily be found, used, and shared by yourself and others.

What is file management?

File management describes how you handle your digital files, whether they are yours alone or shared with others.

Specifically, file management encompasses many activities that you may undertake when working with digital files: creating, organizing, updating, finding (and re-finding), and maintaining (keeping, archiving, and deleting) (Kyong Eun Oh 2022).


This guide targets a wide audience: anyone who manages digital files, including students, faculty, staff, and researchers. The topics it covers apply to individuals and teams who use and share digital files.


This guide will introduce the concepts you need to build your file management skills.

By practicing the recommendations in this guide, you (and your files) will gain the following benefits:

  • Meaningful names to help you find and select the files you need.
  • Simple and consistent folder structure to facilitate browsing.
  • Documentation to guide you and those who share your files, now and in the future.


This guide focuses on organizing your files. Purposeful file organization supports all file management activities.

The following sections will guide you toward the successful organization of your files:

Additional sections offer tips and tools for maintaining and renaming your files:

Additional resources

Contact information

Questions? Contact us!

Consultations are also available by request.

Megan O'Donnell, Research Data Services Lead

Heather Campbell, Head of Metadata Services

File Management by Heather Campbell and Megan O'Donnell is licensed under CC BY 4.0 Attribution