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Life Cycle Management - Overview: Storing and Protecting


Considerations for Storing Digital Files

What to Store

  • Unique, irreplaceable files
  • Files that constitute a personal record
  • Files you will want to refer back to or use again
  • Files you created and own

How to Store

  • Multiple copies in multiple locations
    • Files are less likely to be lost if there are multiple copies on different storage media. Suggested number of copies ranges from two to six.
    • In the event of a disaster, having copies of files in multiple physical locations can prevent permanent loss.

Where to Store

  • External hard drives - spinning disk or flash memory
  • Cloud storage services
  • Network attached storage

Questions to Ask

  • How many files do I have?
  • How much storage space do I need?
  • How many copies do I want?
  • How much am I willing to spend on storage media and services?
  • How much technical expertise do I need for the storage media or service I'm choosing?
  • Do I need to be able to access these files frequently and easily, or only every now and then?
  • Are these files required legally or for a specific length of time?

Considerations for Protecting Digital Files

Threats to Digital Content

  • Everyday loss - accidental deletion, losing a flash drive, computer crash, etc.
  • Content degradation - damage to digital materials over time, "bit rot"
  • Security and privacy
  • Disasters

Considerations for Protecting Digital Content

  • Know where content is located - onsite and offsite; online and offline
  • Know who has (or could gain) access to it
  • Write-protection for your files 
  • Protecting your files from physical theft
  • Clean up your digital footprint
  • Full deletion of disk when changing storage media

Contact Us

Nancy McGovern
Program Manager: Digital Preservation

Kari Smith
Digital Archivist

Helen Bailey
Library Fellow for Digital Curation and Preservation

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