Archiving and Deleting Contacts in FreshBooks

I thought I'd share a tip about managing people in FreshBooks.

My personal needs are quite simple. I track my clients so I can bill them. I don't have any staff or subcontractors, even though logic keeps screaming at me that it's time. Every so often I'll add a new client, and once a year I go through the list and either archive or delete clients I'm no longer working with.

If, however, you have a bigger operation, you might need to manage these things more often.

Recently I had to do some work managing the "People" tab for a client. We were converting some contractors to staff, cleaning up some old clients, and managing the associated projects.

Since "trial by fire" is my preferred method of learning, I came across some issues along the way that forced me to quickly learn about the way FreshBooks handles "archive" and "delete".

The concept is fairly simple. If you archive a client or staff member, their information will still show up in reports...but their names won't be visible in drop-down menus. If you delete someone, they also disappear from reports.

Why the distinction?

Archiving is a nice way to keep your menus clean. There is a big group of clients I only work with once a year. From March to April, I will need to track time on their projects, and send them invoices. Come May 1st, I won't need to pull up their names again until the following March. Instead of scrolling through a large list of names when selecting the right client to invoice, that list just shows me the clients I work with throughout the year.

However, if I need to pull up an invoice report from the year-to-date, I still want to see their invoices.

Deleting is reserved for clients I will never work with again, and who I haven't worked with in the current fiscal year. Let's say I worked with a client up until March of 2012. At that point they closed their business, and no longer needed a bookkeeper. Sometime in early 2013 I would have pulled out all of the 2012 reports I needed. I won't need to reference their information in 2014, so it's safe to delete them "entirely".

The "entirely" isn't totally accurate. In FreshBooks, think of deleting as sending to the trash or recycle bin...without the ability to empty the trash. At any point I can "un-delete" a client, item, project, or staff member. That brings them back into the active list and, as far as I can tell, preserves all of their historical data.

The best use for delete is when you're working with staff. The top tier FreshBooks account comes with 1 additional staff account. This allows you and your business partner, receptionist, or bookkeeper to each have a unique login. Adding additional staff accounts is $10/user/month. If you have all of your slots filled, and you just hired another employee, you have two choices.

You can add another staff account @ $10/month. Or, you can delete old staff accounts. If Jim hasn't worked with you for 6 months, deleting his staff account frees up a space to add Susan. Archiving Jim gets him off of the drop-down menus, but it doesn't free up that spot. Once again, it appears that all of Jim's history is preserved, even after you delete him. This is helpful if you realize later that you need to look up some of his old timesheet entries.

These things certainly aren't rocket science, but it's good to know how they work before making any big changes.

Got any cool FreshBooks tips of your own?

Eric Matthews

I'm a bookkeeper, husband, dad, music junkie, and general tech geek. When I'm a bookkeeper, I focus on cloud bookkeeping. I write at, which helps bookkeepers and business owners move their books online. I work with apps like FreshBooks, Xero, Kashoo, Wave, and QuickBooks Online.

Subscribe to my free newsletter!