The following post was written by Dr. Jo Ann Rayfield Archives graduate assistant Samantha Wolter as part of our monthlong series on digital archives.

Throughout this month, I have given you some quick tips about keeping your digital materials safe and happy. From the cloud to a USB flash drive, there are many ways that you can keep your materials safe. It is very important to keep more than one copy of your materials, and one of those copies should be on a cloud network. I know this from personal experience; I managed to drop my laptop while I was writing my undergraduate senior thesis a month before the 25-page paper was due. My flash drive was damaged in the drop and my screen was shattered. I could not see or work anything on my laptop. After an hour of crying and an expensive trip to a computer repair shop, my thesis was off my computer and on to a second flash drive. If I would have backed it up on a cloud network, I wouldn’t have had all the problems that I did. I now back everything up to my flash drive and to Google Drive. And, if it is extremely important, I email it to myself.

I know that some of you students and professors out there may have had a similar experience. But, if you aren’t in academia and are thinking, “If something happens to my computer, I don’t have papers and notes to worry about,” think about this: family photographs. If you are a parent or a grandparent, I am sure that you have many pictures of your children, grandchildren, and even your furry family members. What would happen to all of your pictures if something spilled on your computer or it was dropped by one of you kids or grandkids? Did you print those photographs out before the accident? If you didn’t, were you able to back them up somewhere other than the pictures folder on your computer? Since you didn’t back them up somewhere else, you have just lost all of your pictures. Even though this is hypothetical, it is still scary to think that all of your pictures are gone and there is no way of getting them back. I have all of my pictures from my trip to Europe backed up in three spots. I would be devastated if I lost them all. I am pretty sure all of you would be devastated if you lost all of your personal photographs. They are part of our lives and are sentimental to us. Make sure that you back up not just your photographs, but all of your important digital files that you have on your personal computer.

I hope that this month of digital preservation blogs has helped you realize how important it is to back up and store your digital materials. Too many of us have gone through the pain of losing important digital materials, when a quick move to cloud network or USB flash dive would have saved you from going through all those headaches and heartaches.

Thank you to all who have read my blogs. I hope you found them as interesting as I did! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact the Dr. Jo Ann Rayfield Archives at Illinois State University.