Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Caring for your digital collections: Photographs

Tips and ideas from the Library of Congress to help you organise your digital material

Keeping Personal Digital Photographs

Photos have rich personal meaning. And photos are unique: if they are lost, the information they provide can never be replaced.

Archiving Tips

Identify where you have digital photos

  • Identify all your digital photos on cameras, computers and removable media such as memory cards.
  • Include your photos on the Web.

Decide which photos are most important

  • Pick the images you feel are especially important.
  • You can pick a few photos or many.
  • If there are multiple versions of an important photo, save the one with the highest quality.

Organise the selected photos

  • Give individual photos descriptive file names.
  • Tag photos with names of people and descriptive subjects.
  • Create a directory/folder structure on your computer to put the images you picked.
  • Write a brief description of the directory structure and the photos.

Make copies and store them in different places

  • Make at least two copies of your selected photos—more copies are better.
  • One copy can stay on your computer or laptop; put other copies on separate media such as DVDs, CDs, portable hard drives, thumb drives or Internet storage.
  • Store copies in different locations that are as physically far apart as practical. If disaster strikes one location, your photographs in the other place should be safe.
  • Put a copy of the photo inventory with your important papers in a secure location.
  • Check your photos at least once a year to make sure you can read them.
  • Create new media copies every five years or when necessary to avoid data loss.