Saving Files - When and How
Imagine creating your first complex project in Photoshop, like a collage. You work for about an hour, carefully arranging and editing your images, but you don't remember to save the file. All of a sudden, the program crashes and all your work is lost. Make it a practice to save Photoshop files about every 10 minutes, so that this common occurrence, known to all designers, does not happen to you. Now let's take a different scenario. You decide to save the collage file to a flash drive that contains various other types of files, so as not to use hard drive space and for ease of travel. The collage is finally done, and you're ready to save the updated file - but wait - you get an error message saying that the flash drive is full! Photoshop files can be hundreds of megabytes, so even large flash drives can be used up quickly. An alternative is to get two external hard drives, preferably in different colors; use one for current work and the other for backup. My Western Digital hard drives contain 300 gigabytes of space and cost about $100 at Staples. Back up your files about once a week.
Ways to Organize and Name Files
If you're planning to create many different types of Photoshop projects, such as flyers or photo retouching, then make sure to organize and name files so you can find them easily. While I was in school, my files were organized in folders according to class name. Since I had many files for any one class, I tried to give each file a descriptive name. This system no longer made sense after graduation, so I reorganized my entire hard drive into folders describing types of projects (e.g. photo retouching). If you're creating projects professionally, then you may want to place your files into folders according to client. When naming the files themselves, the best method is to use lowercase letters with underscores, since it will force you to be consistent and use shorter names, but this is really only necessary for Web design files.