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Personal Digital Archiving: Preservation by format

Preserve and secure your records of long-term value

Photos

Four easy tips for preserving your digital photographs:

  • Identify
  • Decide
  • Organize
  • Make copies

Don't rely on the file name generated by the camera. Instead use descriptive names or identifictions.

Add basic metadata to your files: who, what, where, and when. This will help you find and identify the files later on.

Consider the compression of your image files. Lossy compression means that small amounts of information will be lost over time. Formats like JPEG utilize lossy compression but are smaller and are easier to manage if you are concerned about storage space. Lossless compression is compression where no information is lost. TIFF and RAW formats are lossless but often result in very large files. 

rinse, repeat

While each type of digital record has different preservation requirements, the basics of digital preservation are still the strongest assurance against obsolescence 1.) Identify valuable files, 2.) Organize, 3.) Make copies.

Websites

Tools for preserving your personal websites:

  • The Wayback Machine, created by the Internet Archive, is a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other Internet content. You can browse archived versions of web pages and initiate a capture of a web page you believe has long-term value - see "Save Page Now." Use this to save your own sites or ensure you have a trusted citation for future use.
  • Rhizome's Webrecorder is a free online tool which allows users to create archived copies of the dynamic web and download them in the Web ARChive (WARC) format.
  • Heritrix, also developed by the Internet Archive, is an open-sourced tool for creating web archives.

Social Media

If your social media accounts are important to your personal and social life, consider downloading and saving the data. There are many different ways to download your data - either through the application or with an outside tool. If you attempt to capture social media data that you did not create, use tools which do not violate Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram's terms of service. Practice ethical data capture!

Research Data

Are you generating data for your thesis, dissertation, or another important project? Preserving the data that supports your research is an important step to managing your personal digital archive. The following guidance briefs were generated by the ETDplus project to assist students with data management issues relating to their theses and dissertations. 

Email

Correspondence, letters, and memos are important record types in physical archives. They show so much about a person's life and work. Now all of that information is stored on email servers and many of us use our email accounts as another backup version. Make sure you are taking care of your emails - chances are you have saved very important information in email form.

Audio and Video