Step 4: Preparation for transfer

This step involves moving the records and their metadata from the transferring body to The National Archives. This metadata, when not sensitive, will appear on Discovery so that end-users can search, browse and find relevant material. Completing this accurately will ensure that we capture the information we need to add value to the records.

The records and any metadata provided should not be deleted until they are displayed on our catalogue, Discovery, even if successfully transferred to The National Archives.

To do this the following stages should be followed:

1. Preparation for transfer

  • Move your records into a preparation area, ensuring that the original structure of the records is maintained (this will help end-users find the data, browse and search).
  • Use Teracopy to indicate errors in the copying process and to avoid missing or corrupting files. Teracopy is a free software designed to be used to move or copy files, while protecting the record’s integrity and not changing its intrinsic metadata. If you are a transferring body and are intending to use a different tool, we are happy to discuss this with you and whether it meets the necessary requirements for transfer.
  • Agree on the mode of transfer.

The main transfer method offered by The National Archives is the Transfer Digital Records (TDR) service. TDR is a browser-based preparation area where records are uploaded and prepared for transfer.

If you are a transferring body and are planning a transfer, or wish to create a new series or amend existing series information for your digital records transfer, please contact the Digital Transfer team.

2. Transfer Digital Records (TDR) method

Transfer Digital Records (TDR) is available to be used by any transferring body wanting to transfer their digital public records to The National Archives. TDR allows transferring bodies to upload public records via the web browser and to add additional metadata, including descriptive and closure information where applicable.

TDR automatically collects technical metadata about your records that is required to ensure the permanent preservation of the record, as well as to carry out security and validation checks. This ensures the integrity of the record is preserved and transferred safely.

The onboarding process requires new users to register for a TDR account. Our team can assist you with setting up your account. Once your account has been set up, you will be able to access and use the TDR service to transfer your digital public records to The National Archives.

For more information, please follow our Transfer Digital Records (TDR) page.

3. DROID and encrypted HDD method

The National Archives still offers the DROID/encrypted HDD method for transfers of records that are outside the current scope of TDR. We encourage transferring bodies to consult the desk instructions to complete this process, which can be found here.

This process requires transferring bodies to download the following free mandatory software, developed by The National Archives:

  • DROIDConvert
  • CSV Validator

DROID (Digital Records Object Identifier) is a software tool which performs batch identification of file formats.

DROIDConvert transforms the DROID csv export into the structure (or template) that is required for transfer to The National Archives. This template is called the ‘metadata csv’ file which you should use to add any additional metadata.

CSV Validator checks the integrity of the metadata csv file we receive for preservation so that it meets the necessary standards for ingest into the digital archive.

Step 1 – Generate the DROID report

Transferring bodies are required to use the DROID software to generate a DROID report. Once this has been generated the DROID report needs to be returned to the Digital Transfer team who will check this report and provide feedback.

Step 2 – Generate and validate metadata

The next step requires the use of the DROIDConvert software which will transform the DROID report into a metadata csv file. Generating the metadata is in essence the equivalent of populating a cataloguing template in the paper environment.

It is similar to an Excel file – good Excel skills are vital to the process. In order to make the most out of the metadata.csv your team members will need to know how to copy/paste, sort, filter and replace in Excel (the use of macro, functions, vlookup are not necessary).

  • DROID generates:
    • File path (identifier)
    • File name (title)
    • Date last modified
    • File/Folder
    • Checksum
  • Manual input is needed for:
    • Closure type
    • Closure period
    • Closure start date
    • Freedom of Information (FOI) exemption code
    • FOI decision date (exemption asserted)
    • Title public
    • Title alternate
    • Description public (only required if you are providing a description)
    • Description alternate (only required if you are providing a description)
    • Copyright
    • Legal status
    • Held by
  • Optional metadata for which manual input is needed (depends on whether or not this applies to your records)
    • Description
    • Former reference
    • Language
    • Other language title
    • Start date
    • End date
    • Date range

Validation of metadata

The metadata.csv will need to be validated using another software, CSV Validator. CSV Validator is a mandatory software required to transfer records to The National Archives.

Typical errors identified at this stage include:

  • blank spaces
  • unrecognised symbols or characters
  • incorrect information from manual generation of metadata

This stage of the process can be quite time-consuming, but it is vital to the overall success of the transfer. If you have any questions, or are in need of any assistance, contact the Digital Transfer team.

Step 3 – Proceed to transfer

For DROID transfers, you must complete the Digital Transfer Form to provide detail of series to be transferred in to and numbers of records to be closed, redacted and retained. Filling this form is not mandatory for transfers made using the Transfer Digital Records (TDR) service.

You should proceed to transfer the records using the method agreed with your Digital Transfer Advisor contact. If you are using a HDD, you should consider using a trusted courier service.

Step 4 – Confirm transfer

The National Archives will confirm receipt of the records once the HDD has been delivered. Please do not delete the records at this stage. The National Archives will confirm with you when this can be done (after step 5 is completed).