1. What are the 'golden rules' of digital preservation?

In most cases the processes for digital preservation will be dependent on the capabilities and resources of the organisation. There are however, some basic principles which should always be employed:

  • Always hold at least two copies of a record. Technical obsolescence of standard formats (such as Windows) is not likely to be an immediate threat so it may be possible to retain the original format on a separate secure server
  • Only ever work on a copy of a record to ensure long-term preservation of the content when it was originally entered into the digital preservation process
  • Always document what actions and processes have taken place to allow others to learn how digital preservation has been done and either repeat the processes or develop them as required
  • Ensure that the digital records received into the digital preservation process are unaltered. This may be achieved through the use of Checksum algorithm software

Where can I learn more?

  • Use of checksums - DROID can now optionally generate a content hash of the contents of each file, using the industry standard 'MD5' algorithm. MD5 also features in the Digital Preservation Case Study at West Yorkshire Archives Service

See 'Where can I learn more?' in question 1 of 'Understanding'.