Our Mission

Our mission is simple — to help you capture, preserve, organize and enjoy your family's most valuable memories using archival best practices, methodologies equipment and supplies, employed by FA Logo professional archivists and museum experts from around the world.


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What to Keep

Copy your digital files onto
DVDs then store them in
archival-quality sleeves

The digital materials in your family archive will most likely fall into two categories:

  • Digital backup copies (scans and photos of hard copies and three-dimensional objects)

  • Materials (photos and other documents) that only exist in electronic format, like images on your computer or on social networking sites including Facebook

For both categories of materials, the first step is to evaluate and inventory the materials you have. (To learn more about making scans and digital photos of your documents, photos and mementos, visit Digital Copies of Physical Items.)

Start by centralizing all of the digital files you want to save in one location on your computer. You might start with just two folders — one for digital back-up copies and one for materials that only exist in digital formats.

Don't forget to include any materials that are stored on disks, memory sticks, and external hard drives and/or flash drives as well as photos from your email, Facebook, Flickr or other online photo sharing programs.

Helpful Hint: Remember that some image and video files can be very large. You may need to prepare a space on your computer hard drive, purchase an external hard drive or use a storage medium like CDs or DVDs.

Then, write up a general inventory of all the digital materials you have. Be sure to include the following information:

  • Subject (e.g. "Angie's High School Graduation, 2006")

  • Types of files (e.g. "digital photos and videos")

  • Source (e.g. "Friends: John & Jane Smith")

  • Location where file is stored now (e.g. "DVD 1: "Vacation 2007: Disneyworld" or "Computer desktop, folder: "Joe’s Birthday")

  • Any problems with conditions of files, file formats or image resolution

File Formats
It's best to stick with the most common file formats, which can be opened in a variety of easily available programs. You can resave your digital files into these formats if necessary, but be sure not to reduce the image size or resolution.

    Image formats:

    • TIFF

    • JPG

    • GIF

    • BMP

    • PNG

    • RAW

    • DNG

    Audio files

    • MP3

    • M4P

    • MP2

    • WAV

    • WMA

    • AAC

    • AIFF

Video files

  • MPEG-4

  • QuickTime

Image Size and Resolution
Be sure to keep the highest resolution copy available rather than low resolution copies. It may be tempting to keep low resolution files because they take up less memory, but if you discard the high resolution originals you will lose the details of the photograph forever. (See Digital Copies of Physical Items for more information about scanning photos and documents at high resolution.)

Image resolution is usually measured in pixels or dots per inch (ppi or dpi). Pixels are the tiny squares of color that make up digital images. An image with a very high resolution, or a high ratio of pixels to inches, shows more detail in the photograph. An image with a low resolution, or low ratio of pixels to inches, will start to look jagged and distorted as you zoom in to see details. This distortion is called "pixilated."

Using image editing software such as Photoshop, you can change an image's size and resolution but — unless you have extremely sophisticated professional software — you can only make images smaller and less detailed. You can't make images larger or more detailed once the high resolution original is gone. That's why it's important to save high resolution originals rather than low resolution copies.

When taking new digital pictures with your camera or phone, pay attention to the setting for image resolution. If you take a digital picture on a low resolution setting, there is no way to make the original picture high resolution without professional photo doctoring.

What NOT to Keep
It is not necessary to keep every digital image ever emailed to you or posted to your Facebook Wall. You must choose which photographs are important to you and which will help your family archive achieve your goals. Think about how you hope to use the archive in the future and which digital files will be important to you.

Helpful Hint: When choosing between high resolution and low resolution images or scans, keep the high resolution files as your top priority. If you want easy-to-share low resolution photos, make low resolution copies of your files and keep them separate from your permanent digital archive.

Organizing Your Digital Files