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PRONOM provides information on electronic file formats and the products which can read them. Authoritative information on file format specifications is required by digital archivists, software developers, and anyone with a responsibility for managing digital information. PRONOM supports e-Preservation work by supplying information on the ability of software products to process (read, write identify etc.) file formats, the degree to which the content remains unchanged by different products, and the support lifetime of products used to create, view or update electronic records.


The short lifetime of software products means that the product originally used to create a record may be obsolete within a few years. Newer products may still be able to read or write that format, but often they will alter the content or formatting in some way. In order to faithfully reproduce electronic documents, and plan for migration of records in future, data needs to be collected about the file formats, support periods and the changes to the file under new products. PRONOM is a store for this data, allowing Preservers to maintain electronic records for the future.


PRONOM stores data on:

  •  File formats
  •  Software products
  •  Vendors and support providers (for file formats, software, compression types, hardware and character encoding schemes)
  •  Compression types
  •  Character encoding schemes
  •  Hardware devices
  •  Documentation
  •  Intellectual property rights

It also holds information on the links between these - what software products can read and write specific file formats, the duration for which a third-party will support a given product, etc.

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