Digital Pathology

Our Digital Slide Archiving Policy


The ability to access scanned slide images quickly and efficiently is dependent on server resources.  Immediate-access capability is termed "active" storage. There is a finite amount of active storage available at any given time, and the volume of data generated by Pathology's slide scanning operations exceeds the available active storage capacity by an approximate factor of 2 as of late 2020. Unless flawed, we do not delete any whole-slide images. Therefore, it is necessary that a system be in place to store whole-slide images that meet criteria for archiving. 


The Archive Resource

Whole-slide images to be archived are moved to a recently improved tape backup system. The interface functions much like any other Windows File Explorer window, with lists of folders, sub-folders, and files. However, data transfer functions quite differently than our active-storage server:  while moving files into archive is fast, getting them out, and put back into active storage, takes considerably more time than, for example, moving files on a personal computer hard drive. 

Criteria for and frequency of archiving

As of June 2021, the following high-volume scanning use cases see regular archiving:

  • Dermatopathology transfer cases:  six months following scanned image generation
  • Neuropathology cases: two years following scanned image generation (currently testing 3 yr)
  • Tumor Board cases:  two years following scanned image generation
  • Hematopathology transfer-consult cases: two years following scanned image generation

As of November 2020, the following use cases will not be routinely archived:

  • Faculty personal collections
  • Slides intended for educational use

Note: copies may only be available on the Virtual Slide Box as opposed to being available both on the VSB and the search engine in the Pathology Clinical Lab Portal.


Restoring slides from the archive

If a slide or series of slides have been archived, you will see the following popup flag when your mouse pointer is positioned over the entry for a given slide. The search results example is from the Pathology Clinical Lab Portal search engine.

archived slides example.jpg


The typical turnaround time for restoring archived slides is less than 24 hours. The time required may be longer if the archive restoration request consists of more than approximately 10 to 20 slides.  You will be notified by email when desired slides have been restored from the archive.