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Personal Digital Preservation


  • Digital preservation is a series of managed activities to ensure accurate rendering of digital content as long as necessary regardless of failure or tech change
  • Have 3 copies // in 2 formats // and store at least one of them 1 offsite
  • Test your files periodically to catch potential issues early


Digitization Basics

  • Capture once, use many times
    if you scan at a high resolution, you can say a copy later at lower resolution to share more easily

  • Create a faithful reproduction of the original
    you can always copy the original photo and do restoration work on the copy of the photo

  • Scan from the earliest generation practical
    details get lost as copies are made of materials

  • Technical specifications

    • Start with preferred file formats (non-proprietary is best) 

    • Balance resolution needs against file size 


Additional resource:

Resources for preserving physical items before and after digitization

Organization Basics

  • Be consistent and descriptive
    • Use descriptive but concise file and folder names
    • Avoid special characters, spaces, and periods in filenames
    • Use capitals, hyphens, or underscores to delimit words
    • Use 2-digit numbers to represent 0 through 9
    • Use back-to-front formatting for dates
    • Use version numbers (or a version control system, if you generate extensive quantities/versions of files)
  • Add context (use whichever approach you will actually put in practice consistently in your life)
    • Tags
    • Metadata
    • README files


Copies & Storage

3-2-1 Rule

  • Have at least 3 copies
  • On at least 2 different media types 
  • With at least one copy stored offsite (and offline)



Testing: Regularly try to open your files

General Tips


Printable worksheet