I recently tried to open some archived files, and… couldn’t. Some are old novellas I wrote for National Novel Writing Month, and the successors (directly or indirectly)( to the word processing software I used (AppleWorks, which used a ClarisWorks file format) has evolved to no longer recognize those files. Others files from same software’s spreadsheet feature, contained indexes of hundreds of rolls of film in my art archive, an indexing those was effort that I am loathe to repeat. Those CWK files also seemed to be locked to me forever.
In the past, online people recommended the same in/direct successor software that had already failed me. Despite this, I searched afresh, and read a helpful comment on someone’s similar plea for help that LibreOffice (the successor to OpenOffice) could likely open old CWK files.
LibreOffice did it! I was able to open both the novellas and spreadsheets immediately, and save them as modern, non-proprietary file types.
I donated to the Document Foundation immediately, in support of their goal to help creators own their own content. I also recommend LibreOffice strongly for this purpose. This is a great tool.
Note: if you’ve got old files that you have been backing up but not migrating to newer software, and their content is important to you, consider translating/converting it into contemporary, non-proprietary software formats and/or other “archival” formats appropriate to their content type.
If you really treasure something, you may also consider making hardcopies of it, if that is practical. If you don’t have access to a home printer, want it printed quickly, or want special binding, you can have your files printed in any number of sizes and formats (bound, loose leaf, printed as books) at a standard office support and copying services. Some of my writing from the 1990s was not portable to other computer platforms or rival software packages, and so the only form I have that work in now is hardcopy. Paper works!