I manage digital files
  • 1 Plan for what you will manage
  • Identify the possible scope of what you will need to manage to ensure adequate storage space.
  • Store files you're preserving separate from working files or files used everyday. Your "preservation storage" should only be accessible to a limited number of people.
  • 2 Keep the context
  • Metadata, or data about data, are pieces of information that describe a file. Work to keep metadata with a file, to help future managers understand (a) how the file was created (b) when (c) by whom.
  • You may want to consult the NC Preservation Metadata for Digital Objects to help you decide on metadata to record.
  • 3 Run virus scans, fixity checks
  • Run a reputable virus scan with the latest virus definitions against each file prior to adding it to your preservation storage.
  • Run fixity checks (see sidebar) on files before you put them in your preservation storage and record the checksum in your metadata. Fixity is especially important for preservation of materials that must remain authentic, like public records. Without a fixity check, there may be no way to verify that the file you have in storage is identical to the one you initially received.
  • 4Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe
  • Store multiple copies of your preservation files, preferably in different geographic locations.
  • 5 Don't forget online files
  • Do you use Google Docs, Flickr, or Slideshare to store and share documents? Make sure copies are also placed in your preservation storage for the long term.
  • The State Archives and State Library collect and preserve web sites (including most popular social media sites) of state agencies in North Carolina. Contact us if you are a state agency and want to make sure we have captured your site.
  • 6 Watch your aging file formats
  • When companies go out of business or technology changes, file formats can sometimes become obsolete. If you have files for which the software or hardware to access them is becoming hard to find, consider migrating them to a newer format.
  • There are tools available to help you safely migrate your files with minimal loss.
  • 7 Be aware of public records law
  • 8 Ready for even more information?
  • Try our resources list and tutorials page for more in-depth information about digital preservation.
  • We also have suggestions for "who to follow" in the digital preservation world.
  • ?
  • Are you a state employee who would like to make sure your digital files are managed appropriately for long-term preservation? Please feel free to contact us.


Fixity means the file's bitstream (1s and 0s, sort of like the file's DNA) has not changed over time.


Generate a checksum (also called a hash) using many of the free software products available online. Record that checksum. Re-generate it periodically over time. If the value stays the same, your file has not changed.