Physical Storage of Film & Slide Media

This is part of my Image Conversion Workflow.

After scanning negatives and slides and turning them into digital images, the media needs to be stored carefully. As we move to the digital age, this is increasingly more important if the negatives and slides are going to last. Several reasons support this careful storage.

First, because we will be handling the digital images, the physical media will not be handled for extremely long periods of time. This means moisture and acid can have a more quickly and devistating effect on the negatives and slides. Second, even with a DVD or CD backup, accidents and damage can occur causing the need to recan. Finally, batch scanning doesn’t always inform us when a file may be corrupt until it is needed and not available. Thus, sometimes the only choice is to go back to the original media.

Slide Storage

Storage of slides should be acid free, moisture free and light free as much as possible. I use the 35mm slide storage system from Archival Methods.

This system provides small boxes that store an entire roll of processed slides. I label the top of the small box with the computer folder name assigned when scanning. For example, 2007-S-10 (see Digital Management of Slides and Negatives). Then I put a brief description on the front of the small box. Note that each slide also has the file number and the image number. Images have a surprising way of looking the same. It is important to be able to locate the exact slide based on the computer image file.

Each set of slides is then put in long boxes with lids where I label the range: 2007-S-1 to 2007-S-6. A large box with a drop down flap holds six of the long storage containers. All in all, one box holds 36 sets of slides. If each set has 30 slides, then one box would store about 1,000 slides.

The boxes are acid free and provide easy access and stackable storage.


Negatives are more difficult to store as there is no standard cut size. Negative strips can be un-cut, cut in strips of 5, strips of 6 or some other variation. I use strips of 6 and put them in PrintFile 35mm negative preservers from Archival USA. I label the top of the sleves the same was as the slides: 2007-F-7. Then I put the sleves into PrinFile work boxes labeling the spine with the range of negatives.

These boxes provide a sealed environment for the negatives with easy protection and transportation.


Scanning images is only half the work to a permanent filing solution. As images are scanned, they are assigned a permanent file number. This number must be put on each of the physical media and then stored properly for long life and later usage. Setting up a proper method at the beginning will make managing thousands of images easy later on.

Leave a Comment