Advice on storing digital files

Is a neoprene case a good way to store USB drives in the archive?

USB drive

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Q. Dear Donia,
We plan to copy audio/visual information from tapes, CDs, and DVDs onto USB drives. Would  a neoprene case be a good place to store these USB drives? Or would this be damaging to the drives or to other articles in the archives?—Martha

A. Dear Martha,
Neoprene cases may be good for some applications, but not for storage of materials you want to last for the long term, like USB drives and any collection materials that may be near them. However, the neoprene is not your biggest concern.

USB drives are very useful in many instances but not for preservation or backup. USB drives are not reliable and can fail with no warning (I have had them fail within a year with moderate use). The best thing to do is to store your converted materials on a server or external hard drive if server space is not available. This will not only provide the easiest access across your institution, but will also act as a more stable backup (ideally, you would have another form of backup in an offsite location). A 1 terabyte hard drive will run you as little as $70 and be a better alternative to multiple USB drives.

A caveat—if any of the materials you plan to copy are commercially available, be careful about copying and what access you are allowing. They are still under copyright and restrictions do apply.

I hope this helps, and if you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact "Dear Donia".