The digital dark side highlights the importance of good archiving practices, based on works by the University of the Arts London. Tips include annual archiving, avoiding duplicates, categorization, assessing future needs, creating backups, and using reliable storage formats. has a focus on learning and preservation. So it was with interest that I learned about the work being completed at the University of the Arts London. 

In the Universities flagship Digital Archives and Collections Project. archivist Elisabeth Thurlow gives us a brief insight into the work she undertakes. You could be forgiven for thinking that it is a very solitary enterprise but it seems not. In fact, the position relies very much on good human relationships.

Join the digital dark side

I have been collecting extraneous sample data for years. When it’s collated and ready I’ll publish some of it here at In the meantime, archiving is essentially organising “historical” information that may need to be accessed in the future.

Whether completed for private use, on behalf of interested parties i.e. a forum, or for an organisation. Good file management can speed up your work flow. If your work flow improves so does its completion time!

Here’s some tips to good archiving practice:

  • Archive files that won’t require immediate access at least once a year.
  • Archive only single copies of files. You don’t want loads of duplicates hanging around to be then left wondering which of the duplicates is the most up-to-date!
  • Take an overall look at your data and create an inventory. Put each distinct group of data into a category or field.
  • Decide which of your grouped categories is likely to be needed in forthcoming projects.
  • Remember the same good practice applies to hard copy information that you then transfer to digital.
  • Always do a back-up!
image shows a black Verbatim thumb drive from the article: The digital dark side courtesy of

Rule of 3.

It’s a standard rule of thumb to own three back-ups of important files or data.

One copy in your “live-environment.” This is where you work and is distinct from the storage you are using. You might have an HDD in the next room; in a box on the floor or down the back of the couch.

A second copy of your files or data are kept off-site. It’s unlikely your grandma is going to want to browse through your database of animal FX or pads that have LFO modulation. So, leave a copy with a trusted party.

Ensure you use at least two different formats to store all this stuff! One could be an SSD drive whilst another could be cloud-based storage.

It could be tempting to buy cheap. I don’t recommend this. Achieving a quality, useful sample library takes time and effort. And sometimes (like I have found) a library you bought is never seen again. I purchased a very rare choir library that came from Pinewood studios. I would be gutted if I ever lost that! If it helps any, I currently use Transcend. They are well made, relatively inexpensive and have free file management support software tools available.

Skip to content