Today has been designated a national Electronic Records Day (NERD) by the Council of State Archivists to raise awareness about digital records resources. In addition to supporting the creation and management of government digital records systems, CoSA offers a tip sheet of survival strategies for personal digital records.
The best of these tips is the reminder to periodically migrate files to newer media. This both allows you to continue reading the files and prevents file loss through media deterioration. I still have a file box of 5.25” floppies with all my undergraduate papers on them, and at least one file box of 3.5” floppies full of graduate school papers, poetry, journal entries, and essays. All are in formats that I’m sure are now unreadable, even if the floppies haven’t suffered any age-related degradation.
Isn’t it funny how we imagined that the digital revolution would allow us to store our personal data in perpetua, with little effort and even less space? It turns out that old-fashioned paper remains the most low-maintenance storage medium, despite the vulnerability of pulp and ink to all kinds of environmental conditions.
So celebrate NERD by checking out your own state’s electronic records resources. Then download the survival strategy sheet, pick one tip that will help you manage and protect your personal records, and DO IT.