Personal Digital Archiving: Part One – Strategy

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 post:

Personal Digital Archiving: An Overview


When you put a back-up system into place, you work very hard to make sure to include absolutely everything. But when you start thinking about creating a personal digital archive, (PDA), you want to consider which of your digital assets are worth saving for the long-term and which ones you are willing to invest the time in maintaining throughout their information life cycles.


You can decide what to save in your PDA on a case-by-case basis as new digital objects are created, downloaded, or acquired or you can make an overall determination based on format, (e.g. all image files), or based on field of study or subject area, (e.g. everything to do with library science). In order to create your own personal strategic plan, you will need to think about what is valuable to you and what you want to plan to save.

Assessing Value

There is no one-size-fits-all solution and everyone’s PDA will be different depending on who you are, what you do, and where your interests lie. Artists and photographers may want to save multiple versions or “drafts” of images as they become art, and the same for writers who may consider it important to keep many versions of a document as it progresses into an article or book, whereas the rest of us are content with keeping an archival master of each completed photo and document. In order to determine what’s important for your own PDA, start with the these worksheets:

Selection Strategy Worksheets:
Selection Strategy Document
Case-by-Case Criteria