How can you keep your story safe?

Now that you have identified the materials that tell your story and where they are, you want to keep them safe. The biggest risk to your materials is that they will become unusable through being lost, altered or damaged. You also need to follow data protection legislation and restrict access to personal and sensitive information. Further information on this can be found in Explore More. You can protect your materials by pulling them together in protected places which provide an ideal home to keep them safe. Your digital and physical materials will need different homes.


Digital materials will be kept in a specified folder housed in a secure place. This ‘archive folder’ could be on a particular computer or an external drive which only designated people have access to. To protect against the archive folder being lost or damaged it needs a second and even a third home. Backup copies of the archive folder need to be housed in different physical locations. You could consider an external hard drive or cloud storage.


Physical materials need a home with restricted access, where they are protected against damage from the environment around them. Have a look at the Environmental evils information sheet to find out what some of the problems might be.

It’s not always possible to provide an ideal home but here are some recommended ways to protect your physical materials:

  • Storage in cardboard boxes and folders - protects against light and dust and buffers against changes in air temperature and humidity
  • Avoid areas like external walls and basements – to reduce risk of damp, mould and pests
  • Store off the floor and away from areas with water pipes – to avoid water damage and easy access for pests
Toolkit tea break

Archivist's example

Boxing basics

Get smart with packaging up your materials. See the Boxing basics information sheet for examples of what archivists use to package physical materials and ideas for alternative options.

Activity B1

Setting up protected places to keep your materials safe

This activity will help you identify suitable locations to store your materials and to make sure you have everything you need to create your archive.

Open the Activity booklet and click on Activity B1.


Jargon buster

Repository is a safe and secure place where archive material can be stored and managed for preservation and access. It can be a digital or physical storage space.

Find out more about these and other terms in the Jargon buster.