Welcome to digital preservation 101

A one-page primer on protecting your organization's most valuable asset - for decades.

Why you should read this

Making sure your unique long-term digital information can be easily found, used and trusted is critical to the long-term success of your organization - whatever your field.

The sheer quantity and diversity of digital information being created by organizations like yours is growing exponentially. The pace is only set to increase as digital transformation, digitization and application decommissioning programs gain momentum in every sector, from finance to education.

In for the long haul

Every organization needs or wants to keep significant amounts of information for 10 years or more, for a wide range of important reasons:

  • Unlocking value to drive innovation and competitive advantage
  • Mitigating risk by meeting compliance, regulatory and legal needs
  • Protecting intellectual property, licences and patents
  • Maintaining records of good corporate or institutional governance
  • Preserving and sharing content of unique cultural or brand importance

Digital content is fragile

It is easily corrupted, lost, tampered with, or worse stored in formats that can’t be read or used by future applications. Gartner have been highlighting this: “As formats change, software is retired and hardware becomes obsolete, the data that organizations might want to keep can be lost forever.”

Technology obsolescence

The rate of technology and file format refresh, means that digital content you have been carefully storing for the last 10 years might already be compromised or unreadable - effectively lost forever.

Once popular formats like Lotus 1-2-3 and Wordstar have come and gone. WordPerfect is all but obsolete. This is just the tip of the iceberg of 100s of different file formats organizations need to keep and use - from digitized material, images, AV, websites, emails, PDFs, CAD drawings, graphical designs, GIS maps, project plans and many more.

Why your content management, backup and storage setup isn't enough

Most organizations have systems in place for managing shorter term operational content - like content management, network drives, digital asset management, backup and archiving. While these systems form an integral part of the information lifecycle, they were never designed to ensure the accessibility and authenticity of digital information over decades:

  • No automated, at scale way of updating file formats over time
  • Limited capabilities for proving trustworthiness
  • Long lead times to find information on tape or in dark archives

Reduce cost and risk

The good news is that transferring long-term and permanent information to a digital preservation system has a twofold benefit: safe-keeping and secure rapid retrieval, and reduced cost and performance burdens on line-of-business or legacy content management platforms.

To keep your digital information accessible and usable over the long-term, a number of key capabilities need to come together.

Safe, durable storage

Storage for growing amounts of long term information needs to be durable and cost effective - this can be on-premise, in the cloud or a mix of both. Multiple copies stored across multiple locations mitigate the risk of outright loss. Active integrity checking and self-healing safeguards against any one copy becoming corrupted.

Organized, trusted information

A searchable system that allows for rich metadata will make sure your information is findable and identifiable in the future. Check-sums and audit trails can prove the authenticity and trustworthiness of your most critical content - vital for legal disputes and demonstrating compliance.

Readable, usable information

This is at the core of what digital preservation is for - keeping content readable and usable regardless of the application it was created in. You need an automated system for migrating obsolete file formats to newer ones over time - at scale. Files might be migrated multiple times as technology turns over and older applications become obsolete or are decommissioned.

Secure, immediate access

Information sitting in a dark archive or backup system is value waiting to be unlocked, because it's hard to access. Make content accessible in a secure and controlled way, and you can react quickly to compliance or legal challenges. With the right system, you can open your content up to internal departments, or even make it available to the general public.

Automated acquisition

Any system designed to protect and preserve digital information for the long term needs to be a seamless part of the overall information lifecycle. You need a solution that can automatically acquire, unpack and ingest new digital content at scale, from a variety of content management and line-of-business systems.

How Preservica can help you meet this challenge head on

Preservica is a single, seamless application that brings together all the core elements of successful long-term digital preservation. The combination of durable storage, format updates and secure immediate access is a holistic approach we call active digital preservation.

It's an established solution with a strong track record, and users all over the world:

  • Our software platform is based on archival and digital preservation standards (OAIS ISO 14721) and goes beyond just secure storage. Find, access, use and trust your digital information for decades to come.
  • Preservica is trusted and proven at over 120 corporations, cultural organizations, educational institutions and government bodies.
  • We are a recognized authority in our field. Our product is built on over a decade of development and digital preservation experience in different sectors.
  • We work with partners to provide end-to-end solutions to suit any organizational structure, from ingesting digitized content to integrating with existing information systems.
  • We have a very active, global user community. Through sharing insights and best practice, the group shapes not only the direction of the Preservica product but the future of digital preservation itself.

“With digital only records a number of things can go wrong. We have to deal with playback media that degrades and file formats and software becoming obsolete, among other long-term access challenges. It was vital to protect our unique digital assets from these risks by using digital preservation techniques much more sophisticated than simply storing the bits and bytes”

Valerie Komor, Director, Associated Press (AP)

Watch our short video on active digital preservation

Seen enough?

Ready to think about how our flexible, active digital preservation software could work for your organization?

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