How to preserve Sketchup creations & keep them viewable indefinitely?

I have hundreds of Sketchup creations from over the years, and have decided to move them to a long-term data archive. I’d like them to all be viewable even 50+ years from now, and long after that.

I understand that compatibility between different Sketchup versions is… dare I say… sketchy.

So what would be the best way to preserve these files for as long as possible?

At the bare minimum, I’d like them to be viewable. They are mostly 2 dimensional layouts. Even better - I’d like to be able to see the exact measurements on each line. Ideally, I’d like to be able to navigate them in Sketchup and see all of the dimensions, labels, and colors.

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Well at the bare minimum convert them into .PDF format as 2D plans, they should keep well for a long time.

As for the models themselves, maybe look at converting them into another file format, one thats used more within other CAD software such as .obj or .iges.

The problem is not being able to open your file in 50 years it’s having the file still intact or on a usable medium after all that time.

Somebody in work wanted me to retrieve some old blueprints from a Zip disk last month…it’s a long and boring story but we still have not managed to retrieve the files.

I think the best bet is to continually backup the backup. Every 3-5 years updating it onto a more usable storage format, that could be physical or digital or both.

Thats what I do anyway. I refresh my physical HDD every 3-4 years.And each drive is a duplicate, I also have long term storage in Dropbox/Google Drive and a wireless backup in my house that is only used as an archive in a safe and water/fireproof place.


Up until now, SketchUp has always been able to open older versions. Unless something changes, we will (hopefully) be able to open your SketchUp 2018 file in SketchUp 2068.


Assuming that Trimble and the 3D Warehouse are still in business in 2068, you could upload your files to 3dwh where, ostensibly, they could be retrieved by any interested party.

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Things, times and people change. Nothing is forever.


In a recent talk, Phil Bernstein mentioned a project he’s involved with at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library for archiving CAD drawings (presumably AutoCAD and Revit ones). I think he said they set up virtual machines to run any past OS/application version, but on a commercial basis, you can’t get the rights to all that software to make it generally available. Interesting that a museum that has a Gutenberg bible is now getting into this issue.


Carve them in stone and keep them out of the weather and you’ll have them for hundreds, even thousands of years.


Keep the Windows installer to SketchUp Make 2017 with them and you should be good to go for a few decades. Maybe you’ll need virtual machines running older Windows versions at the end though.


Simple interfaces with lowest complexity and least dependencies survive the longest time.

(For example roads are interfaces that have been compatible with all wheeled and non-wheeled travellers for several thousands of years, while rails have been changing and have incompatible gauges).

Software is probably the most complex that humans so far created and has the most specific requirements (OS, processor architecture, network protocols, power supply voltage). Web services even more, because they depend on running and maintained infrastructure that is out of your control (remember what has been shutdown in the last 10 years).

Besides securing against data loss/degradation (through redundancy) I would also secure against technological supersession by using a hierarchical backup strategy with different levels of complexity:

  • archive the original data with its dependencies (here: SketchUp installer) or at least document the dependencies (operating system and frameworks)
    (for geeks: build a Docker container or VM image with all inside)
  • archive the data converted in a standardized format that is well documented and text-based (non-binary) and so wide-spread that there will likely still exist viewers, e.g. .obj or COLLADA
  • archive the data physically (paper-print, or 3D print) and in human-readable scale (microfilm would again require viewing devices…)

This can even today quickly become an issue! Imagine a flooding damages your house. An old-fashioned print-out can be so valuable if your devices with backups/backup software/password managers are inaccessible or away for repair.


Interesting discussion, simular in the restoration of old (wooden) houses were I live:

one could attempt to preserve the physical, but perhaps it is wise to teach the methods and craftmenship of how to build them, for nothing lasts forever!

Perhaps to late for existing models, but a keystroke (and mouse) tracker (or extension) could generate a simple text log file to show how a model is made.

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It may seem daft to suggest it, but paper and inkcan be quite durable. Some remains of Egyptian writings on papyrus have lasted several thousand years. Obviously, it does help if you can keep the paper bone dry and nowhere near a naked flame. Here in the UK, really important documents are still printed onto vellum. Not sure how the average inkjet would cope with that though.

Relying on computer data may be a bit hopeful. I guess we still have the means to read embossed tickertape but not many PCs come with readers these days, so what hope for any other medium?


(Geekmode on)A docker container has no GUI.(geek mode off)

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@SketchUp3D_de not the software😃

So far, SketchUp has been great at opening older files, but that may not be true forever. I have other software where this isn’t the case. Excel worksheets, for example from the 1980’s can’t be opened by today’s version. If every single old work had been opened and resaved in new formats all along over the years, they could be opened now.

This is an achievable task for computers. It could probably be done in Ruby script for that matter. Point to a folder directory and tell it to open each file and then resave in a new directory in a new or translated file format. Translating to other popular file formats (dwg, etc) would be a hedged bet, but a bet none the less on future accessibility.

Over time the media that stores your files, will give out, so you have to keep buying new media and copying everything over. I don’t see any real solutions that don’t require time, money and continual dedication to the tasks of preservation.

Have you tried engraving the data on a gold record, along with some of your favorite songs, and shooting it into outer space? While the cost may be prohibitive for most people, it’ll be guaranteed to last well beyond your lifetime.
*I’m joking of course.


getting OT ggg

Or simply 3D-print them! In the near future the 3D-printed stuff will be able to be laser-scanned back in when needed! (How long does that material last before degrading?)

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If you’d manage to end the universe today all the work you have so far would survive to the end of the universe. Just an idea.


Vogon Mercenary Force - call toll free on 0800 MASS DESTRUCTION.

Quantity discounts.

You mean this?

(I’m revealing what a pack rat I am)

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