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Advice on How to
Archive Those Digital Files

How long do CD's and DVD's last?

All cd's and dvd's will eventually degrade over time and all technology changes over time.

Eventually you will need to be burn the dvd or cd again to keep them going and consider that in the future the technology will not even be there to open the file. You will need to be prepared to morph all this to the next next technology that will come along.

MIC provides archivists, educators, and the general public the ability to discover, locate, and in some cases view moving images from repositories around the world.

Dutch PC-Active magazine has done an extensive CD-R quality test. For the test the magazine has taken a look at the readability of discs, thirty different CD-R brands, that were recorded twenty months ago. The results were quite shocking as a lot of the discs simply couldn't be read anymore:

Roughly translated from Dutch: The tests showed that a number of CD-Rs had become completely unreadable while others could only be read back partially. Data that was recorded 20 months ago had become unreadable. These included discs of well known and lesser known manufacturers. news is report

It is presumed that CD-Rs are good for at least 10 years. Some manufacturers even claim that their CD-Rs will last up to a century. From our tests it's concluded however that there is a lot of junk on the market. We came across CD-Rs that should never have been released to the market. It's completely unacceptable that CD-Rs become unusable in less than two years. .....

The BBC's recently unveiled plans to make lots of its back catalogue of programmes freely available online, and documents the role played by Lawrence Lessig and Brewster Kahle


Yes, for long term storage. CDs or zip disks are useful for working files or transporting files.

How do I archive my sound files?

One approach is to digitize sound recordings to .wav files: a preservation master at 96KHz/24 bits, a high service copy at 24/16 and an mp3 low service copy.

Files need to be maintained on a server, backed up on a regular schedule and migrated to newer soft/hardware.

Why should you archive your digital files in TIFF format?

For traditional color photography, Kodachrome film, not Ektachrome film, is preferrable.

For digital photography, the master/original is best preserved as a TIFF.

Is the quality of a file affected by repeated opening and use?

No if you re talking about read-only files.

If I "open" an image file that I've burned onto a CD-ROM, it is not saved when I close it. To save it, I would have to write a copy of the file to a disc. The original on the CD remains unaffected. More


Audit Checklist for Certifying Digital Repositories

This draft report is the first guide for determining whether a digital
repository can be certified as a trusted location for digital collections. Developed by a task force of experts assembled by RLG and National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the draft is available for public
comment. Please see a copy below and comment by January 2006.
Audit Checklist for Certifying Digital Repositories (pdf)

Sound Recordings

Council on Library and Information Resources and Digital Library Federation
New Report, Survey of Reissues of U.S. Recordings
"The purpose of this study was to determine the legal accessibility of sound recordings published in the United States. The survey was designed to quantify the degree to which rights holders of historical sound recordings have made available, either directly or through licensees, past recordings that they control."

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