Personal Digital Archiving: Part Three – Implementation

This is part of a series of posts which is based on a 3-hour hands-on workshop I offer on this topic. Be sure and check out the preceding posts:

Personal Digital Archiving: An Overview
Personal Digital Archiving: Part One – Strategy
Personal Digital Archiving: Part Two  – Policy

Organization and Implementation

To get started with your Personal Digital Archive you’ll need to get organized. Begin building a solid personal digital archive by:

  1. Creating an organized directory and folder structure
  2. Creating and implementing a uniform naming scheme for files
  3. Adding metadata and tags
  4. Saving and storing your files


1. Directory/Folder Structure

You will want to create a folder structure within each area of your archive in order to organize your different file formats. This is a very personal decision based on how you think about your digital assets and what is most important for you, e.g. would it be more helpful to organize your photos by date or by subject, etc.

Here are some recommended organizational structures:

Music Files

  • Organize with Artist Folders containing Album folders:
  • Music/Blondie/Parallel Lines/Heart of Glass.mp3

Image Files

  • Organize by Date and Event
  • Images/2008-08-21 Italy Trip/Rome/coliseum.jpg


  • Organize by Project or Type of Document
  • Documents/Budgets/household_budget.xls
  • Documents/NextGen Presentation/nextgen.ppt


2. Naming Conventions

Naming files and folders in a consistent manner is of utmost importance in creating an organized archive. Come up with a naming scheme and style for your various types of digital assets. Here are few different styles:


  • 2010_resume.doc
  • cookbook-recipes.doc


  • CoverLetter2010.doc
  • RomanColiseum.jpg


3. Metadata & Tagging

Start making it a habit to add metadata and/or tags to your digital assets that you will want to archive. Many programs will help you do this easily such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom for images, Microsoft Office programs (in the document’s Properties), etc.

Why add tags and metadata?

  • Makes them easily searchable/findable
  • Lets you keep track of provenance


4. Save Files and Distribute

This is where you put your policy into place and archive your files in the 3 places you decided on. The next step is keeping track of where all your files are stored in your personal catalog.