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Digital Preservation- TRAC certification And the Digital Preservation Network

by on August 28, 2012

I touched on this in the comments of a previous post, but I am concerned that people in general are reacting to the DPN the wrong way. The initial push for the Digital Preservation Network was full of discussions of what could be, and why it was important. I think, for the most part, everyone agreed. In conversations with my coworkers, when I try to talk about digital preservation, they say “But I thought DPN was going to take care of all that?” The answer is that may DPN will take care of “all that”, but it will be a number of years before that happens. My job is to make sure that when DPN happens, we still have good data to give them.

How do you do digital preservation? It may seem like such a big topic, it’s impossible to figure it all out, but really there are a few key things that you can do to make sure your data is safe:

  1. Have multiple copies in geographically distant locations, even if that means it’s just in another building.
  2. Check the data for integrity (easily done through creating checksums, and then checking those checksums at regular intervals).
  3. Keep things in current file formats. Simple formats are best. Lossless formats are best.
  4. Have some overall organization of the digital archive so that it is easy to find things and where they belong.
  5. Have clear policies about what goes in, how it goes in, how it’s checked, and how it goes out.

If you want more information about how to do Digital Preservation right, take a look at the Trusted Digital Repository Certification requirements. You might not be able to include everything they suggest (since getting TRAC/TDR certified is actually really difficult), but just being aware of what is required for a good digital archive can do wonders.



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  1. Is anybody talking about layering checksums? I can see that coming as we start getting ready for petabytes.

  2. I’ve never heard of layering checksums. What is that?

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