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Personal Digital Archiving


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Everyone has digital files, but making sure they're still usuable in 5 or 10 years is a challenge. Based on the Digital Preservation curriculum from the Library of Congress, this presentation will illustrate ways in which we can ensure our files remain accessible. It breaks the process down into six steps with an eye towards long term, digital preservation of personal files. Though aimed at university faculty, the presentation is accessible to all.

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Personal Digital Archiving

  1. 1. + Personal Digital Archiving Michael Paulmeno Head of Discovery Services
  2. 2. or… how to manage your digital life!
  3. 3. + Why Are We Here?  We all have digital files  We want to be able to access our stuff in 5 -10 years  Yet we all have so much stuff
  4. 4. + Analog issues Nothing lasts forever.
  5. 5. User:Jiří Janíček (, „Plesnive knihy - megaplisen“,
  6. 6. + Digital issues More fragile than we think
  7. 7.
  8. 8. + How Digital Files Go Bad Stored on fragile media Bitloss Physical damage Outdated file formats
  9. 9. + What You Can Do Digital preservation Electronic materials need to be cared for; no benign neglect
  10. 10. Identify Select Store Protect Manage Provide
  11. 11. Word of the day… Organize
  12. 12. Identify Select Store Protect Manage Provide
  13. 13. + Where are your documents? Locate all of your photos, manuscripts, notes Camera, computers, memory cards, flash drives, web sites (Dropbox, etc) What other kinds of things are important to save? E-mails, research data, portfolio
  14. 14. Identify Select Store Protect Manage Provide
  15. 15. + Which are important to save? Pick the most important Which things have long term value? Do not keep everything Space and time are limited
  16. 16. + Metadata? What’s that? Label your files Descriptive file names are best Tag photos with names, places, or other meaningful information Use meaningful folder structures
  17. 17. + What kind of files do you have? Lossy vs. lossless images Archival files Access copies Open vs proprietary format txt files vs. Word documents
  18. 18. + Common File Types  JPEG – Compressed format, lossy but smaller  PDF – Stores all text, fonts, graphics, etc need to display a file  TXT – File made up mostly of plain text  MP3 – Compressed, lossy format for audio files  MP4 – Common multimedia file format for videos
  19. 19. + Other File Types PST – Data file for Microsoft Outlook PAGES – File created by Apple Pages JPEG 2000 – Lossless, good archival format TIFF – uncompressed & lossless but large
  20. 20. Identify Select Store Protect Manage Provide
  21. 21. + Get Things Organized Create a meaningful directory structure for your files Group like things together How will you want to find things in the future? Record the structure and a description of the items in writing
  22. 22. + Keep Things Organized Start now and be diligent in the future Gradually deal with your backlog Make a commitment to yourself
  23. 23. + Choose A Storage Medium External hard drives Other computers Cloud storage services (Amazon S3, Azure Storage, etc) → requires third party software
  24. 24. + What is NOT a Backup Dropbox Google Drive One Drive CDs Shared drive
  25. 25. + Automated Cloud Backup Package deal – storage and a program to use Allows for easy off-site backup Usually set-and-forget Many options to choose from
  26. 26. Identify Select Store Protect Manage Provide
  27. 27. + Protecting Your Data LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) Where is everything stored?  3-2-1 rule  Keep track of backup copies
  28. 28. + Protecting Your Data (Cont’d) At what intervals are backups made? How are files organized? Incremental backup or complete? Store the inventory list with your important papers in a secure place
  29. 29. + Automated Cloud Backup Test the system Look at the details when signing up Do you have access to the original files? What about encryption?
  30. 30. + The Bottom Line Get organized Have a plan Multiple strategies Test to see if you can restore
  31. 31. Identify Select Store Protect Manage Provide
  32. 32. + Periodically check things out Spot check at least once a year to make sure the files are still readable Create copies onto new media at least every five years
  33. 33. + Other considerations Software versioning is problematic Think about how you may use the information in the future Can you use someone else’s infrastructure and expertise?
  34. 34. Identify Select Store Protect Manage Provide
  35. 35. + Sharing your files Create access copy, preserve original CD/flash drive fine as a transport medium Email not so great… Can share large files via cloud service
  36. 36. + Rights and Management • Consider copyright issues • May be a concern with manuscripts and e-mail
  37. 37. + Moving from analog to digital Consider scanning old files for access and preservation Create directory structure before you embark on project A little planning goes a long way
  38. 38. + Scanning your analog images Use appropriate resolution Save as TIFF for an archival image JPEG 2000 also acceptable as master
  39. 39. + After you scan Master files and derivative images  Do not do adjustments on your archival files  Work on a copy. Always. Use precision controls when possible
  40. 40. + Consider a Commercial Service Saves time Ensures professional quality Do research and compare services
  41. 41. + In summary… Make conscious choices Don’t keep things you don’t need A little organization goes a long way Think through process from beginning to end Start now!
  42. 42. + Resources • Library of Congress Personal Archiving; ving/ • File Info Extension Database - • US Copyright Office - • Cornell Legal Information Institute (Intellectual Property section) -
  43. 43. Questions and Discussion