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Personal Preservation Tips: What's a keeper/what's trash?

An overview of basic storage best practices to help with preserving personal photographs, papers and digital files.

How do I know what to keep?

The hardest part of keeping things safe is knowing what to keep and what to throw out.  This is something only you can decide but here's a simple guide to help you along. 

Note: this is general personal advice and not legal advice, there are some documents that you should keep (birth certificates, tax forms, immigration papers, etc) for legal purposes.  If you have questions about these, please get advice from someone who specializes in those fields.

 

Down below are three main steps that will help serve as a guide through your own preservation process

Identify

  • First you need to see what you have and where you have your things stored. 
  • Are they in boxes? Hard drives? CDs? Paper?
  • Is it all in the same room? Have things in a self storage site?

Decide

  • Next figure out what you want to keep and throw out.  Does it have sentimental value? Do you remember the people in the picture or where it was taken? Know someone that might remember?
  • Now's a good time to decide what you want to keep safe and what to discard.  Things like duplicates can be deleted or tossed or if the items do not have any value to you personally. 

Organize

Finally it's time to get your materials organized.  

  • For physical materials, look at the tabs in the guides for best storage practices.  
    • Make sure to label the boxes and folders with dates and and names, making everything in the containers easy to find.
  • For digital items, it's best to make an designated folder on your computer labeled "Archive".  
    • Within this folder make easy to understand subfolders with dates in the names of the folder to make navigating through them manageable.  
    • For tips on where to keep and how to back up this folder go to the Digital Files tab.

Organize

Finally it's time to get your materials organized.  

For physical materials

Look at the tabs in the guides for best storage practices.  Make sure to label the boxes and folders with dates and and names, making everything in the containers easy to find.

For digital items

It is best to make an designated folder on your computer labeled "Archive".  Then within this folder make easy to understand subfolders with dates in the names of the folder to make navigating through them manageable.  For tips on where to keep and how to back up this folder go to the Digital Files tab.

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