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Digitizing Collections: Digital Preservation

A guide for digitizing collections for access and preservation.


  1. Planning 
  2. Selection
  3. Digitizing materials
  4. Processing files, creating master and access files
  5. Metadata creation or re-purposing
  6. Digital preservation of master files
  7. Presentation of access files in an online content management platform


Create a digital preservation plan for your digital surrogates.

A good place to start is to review the "Levels of Digital Preservation" recommendations for how organizations should begin to build or enhance their digital preservation activities. It is intended to be easy to use for for just beginning and/or looking for next steps to improve existing digital preservation workflows. Each level addresses the following areas:

  • Storage and geographic location
  • ​Fixity and data integrity
  • Information security
  • Metadata
  • File formats

Storing Digital Files

Basic Principles for Backing up Files

  • 3 total copies of your files  - a primary and 2 copies. Have a copy locally and one in another geographical location - the further apart the better (think natural disasters like flooding or tornadoes) - this can include cloud storage
  • Back up to 2 different media types - example: external hard drive and gold CD
  • At least 1 copy should be kept offline and off site (not plugged in)
  • Check your files at least once a year to make sure they are readable
  • Replace hard drives every 5 years


Things to consider before choosing your backup plan

  • How many files will you have?
  • What size are the files/ how much storage will you need?
  • How much can you spend on storage?
  • How much knowledge is needed to use the storage service or storage media?
  • Do you want to store master files as well as access files?

Resources for Digital Preservation

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.