Practical Digital Preservation

Good digital preservation practice doesn’t need to start with complex systems and intricate workflows; you can massively improve the chances of your digital files surviving by following sensible and practical preservation steps such as these:

  • Identify your important files and content.

It’s easy to create large volumes of digital files but it's important to spend some time identifying which are the really important ones that you want to preserve.

  • Organise your files in folder structures using whatever convention makes sense (e.g. date order, by event).

Try and use consistent and meaningful filenames wherever possible. It may be obvious to you now what a photograph shows, but in a few years time or when someone else looks at it, the meaning may be lost

  • Save your files in common file formats.

Consider whether open-source formats (such as JPEG2000) are a better choice than proprietary or commercial equivalents

  • Store your files on durable media.

Ensure that whatever media you choose to store your content on (external hard drive, discs etc) can be accessed and is compatible with your pc or laptop.  If you chose to use cloud storage ensure you are familiar with the terms and conditions of the service regarding keeping your files accessible and back up arrangements for your content.

  • Back up your content.

Remember the rule of three; ensure you have three copies of your important digital files. The copies should be held on different media and if possible, in different locations.

  • Check access to your digital files.

Periodically open a sample of your files to ensure you can still read them.

The Library of Congress offers advice on personal digital archiving as well as recommended file formats.