Transferring Digital Records

​​Transferring Digital Permanent Records to the Maryland State Archives​

Transferring digital records to the Maryland State Archives (MSA) follows the same principles as the transfer of paper and other non-digital records; however, digital records require some variations in procedure. 

The following criteria must be met in order to transfer digital records to MSA:

  1. Records must be identified as permanent on the Program’s approved MDH Records Retention Schedule. 

  2. Records are no longer needed for current day-to-day business, as defined by the Program’s records retention schedule.

  3. Records must be in non-proprietary, open formats. In other words, records must not be in a format that requires specialized software to access them.

Completing the Digital Records Transfer Inventory Worksheet

  1. Review MSA’s “Instructions for Completing the Digital Records Transfer Inventory Form”.
  2. Download MSA Digital Records Transfer Inventory Worksheet.xls.
  3. Ensure worksheets contain typed print only.
  4. Use one worksheet for each type of record you are transferring.
  5. If there are indexes associated with the records that you intend to transfer, prepare those documents to include with your transfer. Including the indexes ensures that the Archives can provide appropriate access to any records transferred to them. 
  6. If there is any additional information necessary to understand or provide access to the records being transferred (such as data dictionaries), you must also include this information with the Digital Record Transfer Inventory form.
  7. All MDH programs (headquarters and non-headquarters) must submit completed worksheets to for review. The MDH Records Office will generate the required coversheet and batch number(s), and submit worksheet requests to MSA for review and approval. Inaccurate and incomplete worksheets will be returned to the requestor for corrections.

Preferred Formats

To ensure the long-term accessibility of permanent records, records transferred to the Archives must be in non-proprietary, open formats that do not require specialized software to access them. Here are the Archives' preferred file formats for permanent records:


  • TIFF
  • JPEG
  • PDF/A - text-searchable, if possible
  • PDF - text-searchable, if possible


  • Rich Text Format (RTF)
  • PDF/A - text-searchable, if possible
  • PDF - text-searchable, if possible

Database transfers must include the data sets and data structure in a mutually agreeable format, such as XML or mdb Access.​

Methods of Transfer

Once the Archives approves the Digital Record Transfer Inventory form, Archives staff will make arrangements to transfer the records. There are a number of different transfer methods:

Removable media transfer
Transfer by removable media works well for both small and large transfers and can be arranged for either a one-time or regularly scheduled transfer. Examples of removable media on which you can transfer records include flash drives/jump drives, removable harddrives, CDs, and DVDs. If you do not have the removable media, the Archives may be able to provide it. The media can be sent using a shipping method that is tracked, such as UPS, FedEx, courier, or USPS with certified mail return receipt requested.

Online upload
In this method of transfer, the Archives will establish an online site where you can upload the information. This method of transfer is generally best for transfers that will take place on a regular basis, as setting up the transfer requires some extra arrangements. It is also only suitable for transfers less than 1 gigabyte in total volume.

To arrange this type of transfer, you must have FTP software. You must also provide the Archives with the Fixed/Static IP of the computer that will do the upload and the contact information for the person that will upload the information. The Archives will provide the URL for the upload, a username and password, and a window of time in which the upload can take place.

Online Download
This method is the same as the online upload except that you provide the URL at which the Archives can download the records to be transferred. As with the online upload, this method of transfer is preferable for transfers that are regularly scheduled and for a transfer of less than 1 gigabyte. You will provide the Archives with read/write/execute access to the download location.

Google Drive Download
If you have access to Google Docs, the Archives can set up a Google Docs folder and share it with you. You can then drag and drop files to the Google Docs folder to transfer it to the Archives. 

NOTE: Restricted records should not be transferred by Google Docs.

You can transfer records as an email attachment if the transfer is small. Restricted records should not be transferred by email without encryption.