Archiving files for the long term

I have an external disk that I am using to archive old files (Movies, photos, various files, fonts). I also have copy of the drive stashed away. These are things that I may want to have, but do not want to take up space with the new iMac that has limited space. And just cleaning up to simplify my life as it turns out these things are repeatedly saved over various disks.

The main question I have, is “Is it safer to save some of the files as ZIP files, or should I save them all as their original format?” I realize that the zip is just a condensed archive, but if it becomes corrupted, I may lose multiple files. On the other hand, drive space.

I do plan to move the files to new “discs” as things wear out and storage “improves” but want to start off in the best situation. Zip or no Zip?

This is the reason I do not have anything zipped in archive files…when Zip was the latest and greatest file saving technology, drives were teeny tiny, horrifically expensive, very slow, and not very reliable there really wasn’t a better choice than to zip most archives. At home and at work, my husband and I often ran into problems, and so did a lot of other people we worked with and knew. It’s also a million times easier to search an unzipped hard drive. Now that reliable, removable hard drives are a lot bigger, better, faster and cheaper, We each have triplicate hard drives for archives.

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Instead of Zipping, have you considered just storing them in the cloud somewhere?

For movies, if they are already in a condensed format (some sort of MPEG format), there is no reason to zip them. The same goes for jpeg photos - they are already condensed, and zipping will not save you much room (it at all - some condensed format files take up more room in zip files rather than less). The same for music files - they are almost surely stored condensed (MP3, AAC). “Various files” - most various files don’t take up much room compared with movies and photos, so I’d say get a bigger drive if the difference between saving the files and not saving is running out of room because of a small document file.

Sometimes I zip just to condense a bunch of files I don’t need anymore into a single container, but I’d say just store in full format for backup purposes.

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Could put them into dmg archives. I think that those are compressed, but still mountable.

I’ve done this before to avoid old files appearing in spotlight searches.

I have zipped files from decades - yes, decades - of work and research. Have them backed up across multiple external and cloud sources. Saved lots of space and go back to them again and again to get vital documents I have saved. Try to find a baptismal or wedding record from 25 years ago lol. Yet I have had to do that, one case in point being someone whose marriage I performed but the state (not to be mentioned here!!) never recorded. Open the zip and there it was, which was of significant help to the couple seeking a needed legal document. I love the zips but also try to make sure a) they are not corrupted, and b) there a multiple copies. However, I fully agree with the idea of storing important files in encrypted dmg files, a very valuable option. Those too can be stored in cloud and external disks.

So one side effect of unzipping the files it that they place themselves in places that, I guess, they were archived in originally. So some unarchive and show up in the Downloads folder.

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I couldn’t agree more it is inevitable that one will wind up with multiple copies of stuff but better that than no copy or a corrupted copy.