Archive or Delete a Task: Which Should You Do?

Curious as to whether you need to archive or delete a task, email, file, document, etc.? Many people confuse these two actions, which can lead to detrimental effects on their work.

In this video, we’re giving you a quick overview of Archive vs. Delete. That way, you can safe-keep your essential files and purge the ones you don’t need!

Not a video person? No worries! We’ll cover all the main points in this article.

Archive vs. Delete a task, doc, or file

If you use a task or project management tool in your day-to-day, you’ve probably stumbled across the Archive and Delete buttons when you’re ready to close something out.

At that point, deciding between “Should I Archive or Delete a Task?” was probably tricky.

As you may have guessed, this decision does not need to be stressful. That’s why we’re giving you a quick overview of Archive vs. Delete.

Let’s dive in!

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 00:00.

What is Archive?

The definition of Archive depends on the piece of software you are using. Generally speaking, Archiving is similar to a folder.

You know that folder you have inside your file cabinet that you rarely ever peek at but know it’s there in case you need it? That’s what Archiving is!

Archiving is basically tucking things away in that dusty corner — it’s there if you need it but out of your way when you don’t.

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 00:29.

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What is Delete?

On the other hand, Deletion is more serious. Deleting something is exactly what it sounds like. You’re basically putting a piece of paper in a shredder and waving goodbye to it — forever.

For most software, deleting something doesn’t make it instantly disappear. Most of the time, the information you just deleted will be stored in a “pre-deletion area,” often called a Recycle Bin or Trash Can.

This is also similar to a folder, but rather than it being a dusty folder you barely crack open, this is basically death row for your files.

Everything in the Trash Bin (or pre-deletion area) will eventually be permanently deleted.

It’s up to the piece of software you choose to determine if it will permanently delete those items instantly, after 30 minutes, 30 days, or whatever set period.

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 00:56.

Example: How to delete vs. Archive in ClickUp

In ClickUp, you can Archive any task by clicking on the three dots and hitting Archive. This will tuck this particular task/file/document away from your view, but it’ll still show up if you search for it using the Search Bar.

How to Archive in ClickUp
How to Archive in ClickUp

However, if you Delete an item, it will not appear in Search or anywhere else. This item now lives in your Trash Bin for 30 days. After 30 days, it’s gone forever!

Now, this was just one example in one piece of software. Most tools will mimic the rule for 30 days in the Trash Bin until permanently deleted, but always check your piece of software to be 100% sure.

The last thing you want is to hit Delete and have that item gone forever if that wasn’t your intention.

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 01:50.

Criteria for Archiving

So what should you do when hovering over a file and figuring out if you should archive or delete it?

If it’s something you don’t need right now but might need in the future, Archive it.

If it’s something you probably don’t need again, but you’re not 100% sure, Archive it.

If you’re 100% sure you don’t need it again, but you’re also prone to indecision and changing your mind, Archive it.

To watch this explanation in video format, watch the video at the top of this article at timestamp 02:33.

tl;dr: Should you archive or delete?

If you completely skimmed over the previous sections in this article and skipped right to this one, when in doubt…

ARCHIVE IT.

Criteria for Deleting

However, if you never want to be reminded of something because its existence drives you up the wall and you can’t stand to see that task/file/document ever again or you’ll quit your career and go off the grid, Delete it.

Only in extreme circumstances or if you’re trying to reduce your data footprint (and the carbon footprint of your data) should you delete something.

Otherwise, if Archive is available to you, it’s better to have both options and not need them versus needing the Archive option and not having it.

Until next time, enjoy the process!

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Melisa is the Conversion Coordinator on Team ProcessDriven. Melisa's focus is helping small teams learn about our ClickUp training programs by connecting with leaders like you.

Layla is a Vetted ClickUp Consultant who helps growing teams define their business workflows and translate them into a business instruction manual inside ClickUp. She spends most of her days teaching ClickUp, creating content, and providing unlimited feedback within the ProcessDriven Membership. The rest of the time? She's focused on creating value over on her YouTube Channel and free Facebook Group.