This is the web site of Denis Defreyne, a software engineer living in Berlin.

Organize electronic archive by year

Electronic documents that I no longer need on a day-to-day basis are moved into an Archive folder on my external hard drive. The structure of this archive folder is as follows (adapted from Esther Weidauer’s approach):

  • One folder pear year (2021, 2020, …). This folder contains subfolders per document kind: Contracts, Payslips, Invoices, etc. I use the date I created or received the document to determine into which year-folder it goes.

  • A “Timeless” folder. This folder contains documents where the creation date is much less relevant, if at all. I currently have two subfolders: Recipes (certainly timeless) and Literature (for ebooks/PDFs).

  • A “Current” folder. This folder contains aliases/symlinks to archived documents or subfolders. At the moment, this folder contains the following:

    • A symlink to my current proof of residence.
    • A symlink to the folder containing scans of my identity card.
    • A symlink to the folder containing personal portrait photos.


This structure creates a small reset each year. This way, there is no need for a structure remains in place for decades.

Old and possibly irrelevant documents stay out of sight.

It becomes easier to identify which documents are outdated and can be thrown away, if needed.

Open questions

Can this approach be used for a physical archive as well? How would it work?

When modifying a document significantly, should it move to a different year-folder? Or would it be better to not modify the original, and rather modify a copy?