Personal Digital Archiving: Part Four – Cataloging

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
Personal Digital Archiving: Part Three – Implementation

Creating a Catalog

Many people have begun to create personal digital archives to store and preserve their digital assets, while others have implemented routine backup processes, but few have created catalogs of where everything is. Do you know where all of your personal digital assets are stored? Are some files still on CDs? Are some in the cloud while others reside on external hard drives? As time passes, it becomes more difficult to remember where everything went, if there were passwords or encryption placed on files, etc.

The good news is, you can easily create own personal archival catalog which will include:

  • A complete list of digital assets in your Personal Digital Archive
  • Location-information for assets
  • Passwords and Encryption keys for protected files
  • Usernames & passwords for cloud accounts
  • Optional additional metadata about assets

You can create and store your catalog in the cloud for easy and ubiquitous access, or if you’re concerned about security for passwords, etc. you could choose to store your catalog locally. Here are a couple recommended programs:

GoogleDocs Spreadsheets

You can create a simple spreadsheet using a free Web-based application such as GoogleDocs, or a desktop program such as MS Excel or Open Office Calc. Either way, this catalog will help you keep track of where everything is located, possible passwords, encryption keys, and dates of when they were archived. Some possible fields to include in your spreadsheet would be:

  • Digital Asset
  • Filename
  • Path
  • Location 1
  • Location 2
  • Location 3
  • Wildcard Location
  • Password
  • Notes
  • Date Archived

Zoho Creator Databases

The Web-based database creation application, Zoho Creator allows users to easily build and store up to 2 databases free of charge. And it also lets you share what you build by making your databases public. If you would like to grab a copy of this Personal Archival Database for yourself, simply click into this link to access the database, and access ‘Options’ on the upper right and choose ‘Copy Application’, it will create a copy in your own account and you can feel free to customize it with any additional fields you’d like.

Here’s a view of the data:

Hopefully this gets you started creating your own Personal Digital Assets Catalog!!