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Archive Your Old Projects

Yesterday, while looking through a folder called old things lol glhf, I fell into a rabbit hole of old abandoned projects—mostly websites and graphic design, but I also found one or two Flash1 projects and compiled .exe files2.

And, while it was really fun remembering projects I’ve long forgotten, there was no structure, and it was often difficult to figure out what a project did and what it looked like—some even missed crucial data. This made me think about how I want to archive my projects going forward.

Here is my new strategy:

Leave it online

If the project is on the web, doesn’t require maintenance and doesn’t cost you money, leave it online.

Occasionally, you’ll need to move to a different domain, for example when re-doing a website. When talking to Ollie about this, he told me that some people leave their old websites online at <year>.<domain> and I love that idea3.

You can look up old content and redirect links, so your URIs stay cool. And in ten years it’ll probably still be online.

Archive it

If you can’t leave it online, save it to your file system. You don’t have to go all Johnny.Decimal, but at least create a dedicated folder and subfolders for every year.

But instead of just copying your project to the archive folder and be done with it, consider these points to make life easier for your future self:

Make screenshots

Having a screenshot allows you to relive your memories more easily without going through the hassle of setting up a project. If you want to go the extra mile, do a screen recording showcasing your project—this has the bonus effect of hearing your voice from years ago, and it has more context.

Add a README

Explain what the project did, when it was created and abandoned, who contributed and how to get it running again.

Back up the database

Some of my projects are missing a database dump, so all the actual content is gone. Run sqldump or whatever export functionality your database supports and add it next to your files.

Keep generated assets

When using static site generators, add the folder containing the built HTML, CSS & JS to the archive. That way, all you have to do is run a static file server to be able to browse the complete website.

Save it to the Internet Archive

If you don’t own your platform (maybe you’re publishing to Substack or Notion), you can at least save your website to the Wayback Machine. I would also advise saving your content somewhere you control.

Show me yours

So that’s it, that’s my new project archival strategy.

How are you archiving your projects? Am I missing anything? Let me know.

  1. If you don’t know what this is, Wikipedia’s got your back

  2. Not sure what to do with these besides deleting.

  3. You can find the previous version of this very website at 2023.arne.me.