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Digital housekeeping

As part of your digitisation plan, it is a good idea to do some digital housekeeping. This will allow you to find out what you already have, where it is located, and whether you need to keep it.

It is very easy to end up with lots of duplicate files, poor-quality images and no standard way of naming and storing your existing digital records.

Here are some ideas for tidying up your existing digital holdings, which will give you a strong platform for any further digitisation.

Identify where you have digital records

  • Note down all the digital files you already hold on cameras, computers, and removable media such as memory cards or external hard drives. Make a digital 'box list'.
  • Include any files that are kept on cloud storage
  • Locate important correspondence in your email account that you wish to preserve

Appraise your digital records

  • Choose the files that are a priority for the group to preserve
  • If there are multiple versions of important files, save the ones rendered in the highest quality, final versions of files, or drafts that show a document's development in a notable way

Organise your digital records

  • Give individual files descriptive file names and include the date created or changed, the initials of the author, and which version they are
  • Create a directory on your computer to organise the files you have selected
  • Write a brief description of the file directory structure for future reference purposes

Make copies and store them in different places

  • Make at least two copies of your selected files— remember 'Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe!'
  • Back up copies on different media:
    • One copy can stay on your computer
    • Another can be saved to portable hard drives or memory sticks
    • Back up another copy in the cloud, if you have it.
  • Store copies in different locations that are in difficult physical locations. If one copy is damaged, the others should still be safe
  • Keep a copy of the file inventory in a secure location
  • Check your files regularly (at least every couple of months) to make sure you can still read them
  • Create new copies and transfer files to new hard drives every few years, to avoid the danger of data loss
  • Storage in the cloud is useful, but check the storage provider's terms and conditions for details on file ownership. The cloud should be one of the options for backups but not the only option.

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