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Personal Digital Archiving

Preserve and secure your records of long-term value

Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe!

One of the best strategies for preserving your digital files is to keep multiple copies. If one copy gets lost or damaged, you have another copy to restore with. But where do you keep all the copies you've created?

Storage options

  1. Your laptop or desktop: This may be your primary storage location, where you edit and save documents as you work on them. You may save them on the computer's hard drive, internal flash storage, or a networked or shared drive.

  2. External hard drives: A larger external drive is useful for storing backup files of documents you create and value.

  3. Flash drives and other solid state media: These drives are inexpensive, easily obtainable, and portable. They are great for transferring or carrying your work with you. 

  4. The Cloud: Storing files on the cloud means they are stored on a server that is managed by a third party that you can access via an Internet connection. There are a wide variety of Cloud environments including free and for a fee options. If you choose a service provided by a for-profit company (Google, Amazon, Flickr, YouTube, Dropbox, Apple) carefully read their user agreements so you know how your information may be used.


Once you have stored your files, it is important to keep them safe and secure by protecting their integrity. Make sure you maintain your passwords for devices and / or specific documents, files or folders. Also, keep up to date with your anti-virus software protection. Other recommendations include:

  • Maintain at least one local (non-cloud based) copy
  • Keep at least three separate copies of your files
  • Place at least on copy in a different geographic location
  • Keep a record of your back up practices. This can be as simple as a text file which specifies how, when, and where you store your materials

Additionally, you could consider creating and regularly checking "checksums" or digital signatures to ensure that your files do not change or become corrupt over time. Checksums can be generated by several different utilities and can be stored with your files. Tools to consider for managing checksums:

Additional resources