Do you have a New Year’s resolution to organize your home or business? This is a great time to label, archive, and store your important photos, videos, audio recordings, digital presentations, and documents.
First, gather your items. Include printed photos, documents, music CDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs, video tapes, audio tapes, and file folders on your computer.
Sort your media. Separate them by media type, subject, date, or project.
Choose an organization and documentation system. You can use a written or typed list, spreadsheet, or database, depending upon the organizational complexity and quantity of your media. Whatever documentation style you choose, make it easy to update, as you add new items.
Delete or environmentally dispose of unneeded items. Fun ideas for old disks are suncatchers, bird repellents for fruit trees, clocks, or arranged in shadowboxes. If you have a large quantity of videotapes, contact a professional recycling company. They will securely delete the video recordings and recycle the tapes, keeping plastics and chemicals out of landfills.
Burn (Copy) your files onto CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs, or external hard drive. Organize the files into folders, following your organizational system. Scan printed photos and documents and save them in the correct folders.
Label your media. Write directly on disks with a Sharpie marker, or print on printable disks. I recommend not using adhesive labels on CDs or DVDs, because the label could come off in the disk drive or player. Also, write on the media container, on the front and side that faces out from the shelf or box.
Rewind your tapes. Video and audio tapes must be stored completely rewound to prevent any slacking in the tape. Every year, go through your tapes and wind them forward (or back) completely, so they maintain their tension. Store your tapes standing up (on one of the short ends).
Store your media. A dry, cool, dark, dust free storage area is best for preserving your media.