Preserving Your Personal Digital Memories

We used to keep photographs in shoeboxes or albums, and documents in file cabinets; what now that many of our photographs and important documents are digital?

As part of ALA’s Preservation Week, Bill LeFurgy at the Library of Congress gave a webinar entitled “Preserving Your Personal Digital Memories,” which M.I.T. Preservation Librarian Ann Marie Willer was kind enough to stream and make available to GSLIS students.

LeFurgy outlined the risks to digital files: obsolete storage equipment (e.g. floppy disks), scattered files (on different devices or services), and user mistakes, forgetfulness, and procrastination (how often do you back up your files?).

He introduced the concept of active management and broke it down into four steps:

  1. IDENTIFY where you have digital files
  2. DECIDE which files are most important
  3. ORGANIZE selected files
  4. MAKE COPIES and STORE them in different places

Simple enough, and the time and effort you put in is up to you (though the more time and effort, the better your results).

LeFurgy recommended storing files on CD-R, but said that no storage technology could be trusted for more than five years; it’s a good idea to test it annually, whether it’s a CD, an external hard drive, or a USB drive.

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