Saving computer files: build your personal archive

We have safeguarded our memories in photo albums, video tapes and notebooks. But are we ready to recover the data we have generated in the digital environment? How will we be able to access the selfie from our last summer holiday or our end of course project ten years from now? We provide content and tips to help you store and preserve all your data for the future.

Last modified: 
11.15.19

From shelves and boxes to the cloud

Graphic image explaining the procedure for identifying, organizing and storing important information.

1. Locate your information

Find out where your personal files are stored and choose which ones you wish to keep depending on their importance and quality. Search your computer, hard drives, memory sticks and mobile. Don’t forget the information in your email and social media accounts.

Tweets
You can download your tweets for an overview of the information you post.
Facebook information
You are able to download specific information from your Facebook account.
Gmail messages
You can export data from your Google email account.
Outlook messages
You have the option to export emails and contacts from this email provider.
WhatsApp history
You can export a copy of your individual or group chat history in this app.
Instagram posts
You are able to download a back-up copy of your Instagram data whenever you wish.

2. Organize your information

Once you have chosen the files, organize them: give them a descriptive name and create folders. Then choose the support on which to store them.

Trucos para organizar tus archivos digitales y ahorrar espacio
Tips for being more productive in organizing your digital files.
Eines preservació digital
Consells professionals per ordenar el nostre arxiu digital personal.

3. Save your content

Create back-up copies of your computer files and review them periodically in order to keep them in good condition.

The challenges of digital preservation
Take note of these six factors that could put your digital legacy at risk.
preservación digital
Practical guide with basic recommendations for preserving different file types.
File formats and standards
Manual about the challenges of digital preservation with a chapter devoted to file formats.
Recommended formats
This table contains guidance on file formats for data sharing, reuse and preservation.
Preservació de recursos d'informació digital
Open-access UOC learning resource with a module devoted to preservation strategies.
Making and Maintaining Digital Materials
A guide with information about choosing formats, using metadata and organizing documents.

How to save...

You will have a permanent URL and can retrieve your work whenever you want.
Documents
A video in which various experts offer tips on preserving paper books and computer files.
Emails
A webpage with recommendations for saving and organizing your email messages.
Videos
A step-by-step guide to saving your videos and creating a personal audiovisual archive.
Photographs
Photographs are irreplaceable. Learn how to preserve them.
Webpages and social media
Much of our daily activity is stored on blogs, webpages or social media.
The cloud
The two key issues you need to investigate before deciding on an online back-up service.