Thursday, April 28, 2011

Preservation Tip of the Day #4

Each day this week to celebrate Preservation Week 2011, we'll be posting a handy tip to preserving your own collections. Stay tuned, and check back tomorrow!

File Naming!

Today’s tip regards file naming. Do you have files on your computer that look like this:

  • Awesome thing I totally love this lololololollollo.jpg
  • 2007-04-03-085537.jpg
  • Collegeapplication#127version3.5draft1.doc

If so, you’re in digital preservation trouble! Two of the most important aspects of digital preservation are knowing what you have on your hard drive and being able to find something when you need it. Part of this requires that file names be clear, consistent, and representative of what they contain. Possible solutions to the above file naming disasters would be:

  • dancing_lolcat.jpg
  • hawaii_trip_snorkeling_20070403-085537.jpg (this includes both the date/time the photo was taken and some context regarding what’s in the picture)
  • dartmouth_app_draft_06.doc

In addition to identifying what’s in the file, it’s best to use lowercase alphanumeric characters and an underscore or dash instead of spaces. And make sure that file extension is visible, especially if you’re sharing files across operating systems. You always want to know what kind of file you have! For more information on best practices in file naming, see

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