(House)Keeping Your ACT! Together #3 - Purging Old Data

A quick notice to start: ACT! has recently released version 5.0.4. This is a free update and is intended primarily to address compatibility issues with the new XP operating system (OS) from the Evil Empire (EE). From all accounts this new OS is a must have for everyone, except, perhaps, those folks running Windows 2000 Professional. While I would wait until I bought a new machine for the OS upgrade, some folks may feel a burning in their pocket for the new OS and contribute to the EE's war chest. In any event, I recommend everyone use the "Live Update" feature in ACT! to download this latest upgrade.

Since it seems I have been on a roll lately with this housekeeping stuff, I'll make this "Tip" the last on the topic, at least until spring (cleaning). November 14th's "Tip" described how to perform periodic database maintenance (compressing and reindexing). This "Tip" will discuss how to clean-up old data that may be needlessly hanging around your database potentially slowing ACT!'s response time and performance.

Historical information on prospects and customers is a great thing. But how much is too much of a good thing? While I would not discard any data, I would archive much that is old for retrieval should the need arise. Start by creating a new "Backup" (ACT! Tip of the Week - 11/2/01) giving the new file a name different than your usual "Backup" file. I use a name with today's date and "archive" (i.e. 112801archive.zip). Remember, the next time you do your normal "Backup" you will probably need to start your "Backup" by navigating to your regular "Backup" file. ACT! typically defaults to the last location, and you do not want to overwrite your archive.
Once your archive has been "backed up", all your historical information (attachments, e-mails, reports, templates, etc. stored in their program default locations) will be available via the "Restore" function should you ever need them. I prefer the "Backup" to simply archiving a "copy" of the database for two reasons. First, effectively cleaning up your database includes removing all your old attachments (letters), e-mails, etc. from ACT!, the "Backup" retains these, a "copy" will not. And second, having another database(s) hanging around invites the potential of adding new information to the wrong database.

So, after all this "Backup" stuff are we done? No, not quite yet. Next, start the process for "Periodic Maintenance" (ACT! Tip of the Week - 11/14/10) by pulling down the "File" menu and selecting "Administration" then "Database Maintenance". The dialog box that appears should look familiar. This time, however, click on the "Data Clean-up" tab. Behind this tab you will find several check boxes listed under "Remove from database" ("Purge" for those still using ACT! 4.0). For each check box selected you will need to consider a date from before which all information in this category will be deleted. I typically do this twice a year and leave 18 months (550 days) of "Notes", "Histories", "Attachments", and "Cleared activities", and 90 days of "Transaction logs". If you use the sales opportunity manager (sorry ACT! 4.0 users) 6 months should be enough for "Lost sales", "Closed/won sales" and "Sales opportunities". The choice of how much is too much is, of course, up to you.

Finally, click the "Remove Selected Items" button and you are done.

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