Archiving data

Archiving is a general term for the range of practices and decisions that support the long-term preservation, use, and accessibility of content with enduring value. It is not a one-time action, but is instead a process and an investment that connects directly to your projects’ goals.

Should you archive your data?

You may want to archive your information if it has enduring cultural, historical, or evidentiary value. Preserving information has the potential to support the protection of rights, to seek redress, and to support reconciliation or recovery in damaged societies.

Planning for your data to be archived

Try to identify as early as possible that you want archive, what you want to archive and where you want to archive. When you are at the closing stage, it may be overwhelming to solve all arising problems, while having limited time before you need to move on.

Ideally you will identify the metadata that you need about the information you are collecting so that you don’t need to collect too much and you don’t collect too little.

Try to store data to be archived in popular (=interoperable) formats which are likely to be used in future (for example, they are used by popular software). Over the course of a few years formats may go out of use and software systems become unable to use the data.

Keep in mind that videos can be very large, so you need to make sure that you have the infrastructure or support in place to accommodate this data (see potential archive partners below).

Where do you archive?

If you archive data yourself, you will need to consider the cost, time and skills that will be required to maintain the archival system. This is not for the faint of data-heart! See (and learn intimately) the section A home for healthy data and include data storage capacity into your long-term organisational strategy.

Alternatively, it might be useful to partner directly with an archive that will help you in the public interest, such as:

Further resources

Additional resources

Organizations to reach out to for urgent support

HIVOS Digital Defenders Emergency Response and Grants

If you are a human rights defender, journalist, blogger, activist, NGO or media organisation and you need immediate help to mitigate a digital emergency, check in with Digital Defenders. If you think something is wrong with your computer, phone or accounts (email, social media, website or other) please get in contact with them. See also: Digital First Aid Kit


Distress Services are intended for activists and culture workers in situations of distress as a result of their professional work.

Frontline Defenders

Front Line seeks to provide 24 hour support to human rights defenders at immediate risk. If there is a crisis you can contact Front Line at any hour on the emergency hotline.

Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights

Urgent Action Fund supports women activists who are being threatened because of their work defending human rights. The Evacuation Grant is a specific type of Rapid Response Grant, designed for those in urgent need of relocation funding because of threats, persecution and/or an extreme security situation.

Online Directory of Urgent Responses for WHRDs

This Online Directory was produced by the Association for Women in Development and the WHRD International Coalition in 2011. It outlines the diverse urgent responses for human rights defenders that exist and, where available, those that are specific to WHRDs.

Project Design Resources

Data Management Resources

Getting Data Resources

Understanding Data Resources

Sharing Data Resources

Existing Data Policies and Guidelines