Oh The Trees
The Aspect Property Manager allows you to display all reports on the screen before printing so you can be quite selective in what you do print on paper. Many reports can be run for previous periods but we haven't yet managed to report on future periods for you though! Nor can we report on records that have been purged from the system unless they have been saved in an Archive.
One of the difficulties all computer users have is disk space and no matter how much you have you can use it all up. So you must periodically purge your files to reclaim space. In doing so you now have lost the ability to go back to that old data. IRD requirements aside, you need to keep adequate records of those deleted transactions. In addition if you do not purge your files your back-ups take longer and longer as time goes by. I think you can see this doesn't just apply o the Aspect Property Manager.
If you keep the old records on paper you need another tree. If you keep them on tape, disk, CD-Rom or DVD you had better have kept the programs that relate to what you saved too, because the latest program version may not work with the data that was saved. You may have upgraded that computer that was going to last "forever" and no longer have the same media available. Tapes are not universally readable. Archived data stored on disks, diskettes and especially tape deteriorate over time and may become unreadable anyway.
Just what the hell is the answer. There isn't one, or at least not one that can be guaranteed, other chopping down another tree. And that's only as good as your storage is fire/flood/rat/etc-proof.
In most situations a compromise just has to be made. By periodically backing up the application programs and data files, printing off the really necessary reports and storing them both in safe places, preferably not together some degree of safety can be achieved. Once that's done then files can be purged leaving the last "year" or whatever you want to keep. This could be done at the end of each tax year.
We have within the Aspect Property Manager an Archive procedure will overcome most of these difficulties, apart from media deterioration, and if CDRom is used it does provides a good long term answer. Providing you archive your data before purging you can access old records directly from the CDRom as the program and data is saved and past periods can be reported upon. Now this does save a tree. It would be wise to have a working copy and a master copy of the archive stored off site. Remember this form of media does not like heat so make sure it is secure and kept in fire/flood/etc-proof storage, don't leave it on the dashboard of the car and don't use it to play Frisbee with the dog.