Time proofing the digital archives

We are all familiar with the rapid changes that have taken place over the years in the world of digital technology. How many people can still access data on a floppy disc, and what about documents and spreadsheets from the 1980s produced using Word Perfect or SuperCalc, just two of the many formats developed over the past forty years. This clearly represents a problem for the Archives Service where it is essential that digitised material remain accessible and secure both now and for many years ahead.

The solution used by Northumberland Archives Service is to use the services of Preservica, which maintains a global network of servers to store data for its customers. This means that the data is not lost if one server fails but can be recovered from one of many sites worldwide.

Preservica also has tools that will read early file formats and convert them to current formats best suited to the type of material concerned, be it document, video, web page, and many others. Not only that but the files are converted to new formats as they emerge over the years, automatically, so that the material is available for immediate access at any time now or in the future.

This is the digital management system that the Archives Service now use and are gradually transferring digital collections to, with more than 300,000 files processed to date. Just another example of how some of the donations made to the Trust will be spent to allow precious material to be safely preserved for the future.