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Digital Archiving

Provides guidance on organizing, archiving, backing up, and preserving your personal digital files in a variety of media formats, including text, photos, audio and video.

Naming Files

The simplest way to organize your files is to give them unique, concise, and descriptive file names. Use whatever file-naming system works best for you, as long as you keep it consistent. Here are a few tips for naming files:

  • Keep names short (under 25 characters). Long file names can cause problems for the computer. Abbreviate, truncate, and use acronyms.
  • Avoid special characters, such as: ^ ~ \ / : * ? " < > | ! # % & $ , . These symbols can indicate specific commands and may cause problems when transferring your files.
  • Don't put spaces in file names. Use underscores ("new_word") or camel-casing ("newWord").
  • Start the file name with a date for chronological sorting. The recommended format is year-month-day, or "YYYY-MM-DD"
    • For example, Nov. 7, 2019, is "2019-11-07"

For more information on file naming, this Stanford Libraries resource provides expert advice, including examples of best practices and links to tools for batch renaming files.