It is extremely important to ensure that digital information of great significance remains accessible for use. The activity that seeks to ensure continued access of digital information is referred to as digital preservation (Brown, 2013). Through a workshop held at Warwick University in 1995, several recommendations concerning digital preservation approaches were proposed (Ross, 2012). Digital preservation entails numerous activities including planning; application of preservation techniques; and proper resource allocation with a combination of policies, strategies, and actions to ensure that despite challenges such as media failure or technological variation, access to reformatted content is maintained. This might also result in more diverse possibilities to use the information (Roland & Bawden, 2012). The idea of issuing authenticated content over time is the main aim of digital preservation. It also aims to ensure that future scholars will have an opportunity to interact and base their researches upon today’s science. The nature of the material to be preserved is the main objective of retention, while the organization defines which strategy is to be applied (Oehlerts & Liu, 2013). Digital preservation also poses many challenges which result in a multiple number of strategies being undertaken. Although several digital preservation approaches have been suggested, still there is no particular one that is suitable for all data types, circumstances, or even institutions. Therefore, when choosing digital preservation method, it is important to consider the data type, circumstance, and the organization.
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Migration entails the transfer of data to newer systems. It can be executed in three different ways. First, it can be the shifting of information from one hardware or software type to another, from one generation of computer to the next one, transfer to the non-digital media like paper, or to a more appropriate type of media such as floppy disc to CD-ROM (Ross, 2012). Second, it can be approached through shifting to standard formats which seem to be less unstable compared to other formats (Burda & Teuteberg, 2013). However, standards are disadvantageous for the fact they are always in a state of flux, and thus, it is not advisable to rely upon them (Roland & Bawden, 2012). Third, refreshing can also be applied whereby digital information is copied from one long-term storage media type to another one without varying the object or the bit stream (Ross, 2012). This ensures that information is preserved in the newer medium as the old medium becomes obsolete. However, the use of a durable or persistent medium, for example, gold CDs, may minimize the essence of refreshing (Ross, 2012). This is because it assists in reducing losses from media deterioration when properly stored, carefully handled, and the temperature and humidity regulated. Nevertheless, it may endanger the content by offering a fabricated sense of security as it lacks effect on any other cause of loss such as obsolescence of encoding and formatting schemes, media obsolescence, and drastic physical loss (Roland & Bawden, 2012). The object’s integrity, preservation of essential characters, and retention of the ability to retrieve information despite variations in technology are the main advantages of migration, which, hence, offers a promising approach (Ross, 2012). However, migration has a few disadvantages, and namely it is expensive, time-consuming, and sometimes it is impossible to provide a copy that perfectly corresponds to the original at the same time guaranteeing compatibility with the new technology.
Emulation process constitutes the development emulators, which are programs that translate code and instructions from one computing environment to be rightfully executed in another one (Ross, 2012). An example of a common emulator is the one built into the current versions of the Apple Macintosh operating system that provides room for constant use of programs based on the previous series of central processing units (CPUs), which are now obsolete in Apple computers. Nevertheless, most current emulators were created to continue their functioning in modern computers and to enable people to play computer games written for outdated hardware. It also involves duplicating the functions of one system with the use of a different system, so that the latter system appears to resemble the first one and the original digital material is supposed to be reserved (Roland & Bawden, 2012). Emulation is advantageous in a sense that the original data remains authentic, which is efficient, since it requires no further action once data is emulated. This functions, however, unless technology advancements occur. Due to the fact that emulation allows to preserve the access to digital information, which may be lost with the software or hardware when it becomes outdated, it combats technological obsolescence (Roland & Bawden, 2012). In spite of this, emulation might be not beneficial as its extensive use as a long-term digital preservation tactic will demand the development of partnerships to adopt the technical measures essential for the development of efficient emulators together with the administrative work. It is aimed at assembling specifications and system’s documentation to be emulated and attaining the intellectual property rights of pertinent software and hardware.
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It basically involves assembling all the required material for the digital object and manages the resulting digital object as one. The main objective of encapsulation is to overcome the problem of technological obsolescence of file formats, whereby an important component essential to decode and render a digital object is missing (Ross, 2012). This is achieved through making the details concerning the interpretation of the digital object an indispensable part of the encapsulation of information. There are several types of metadata suitable to be grouped together with a digital object such as representation, fixity, reference, context information, and origin.
This technique essentially involves creating a back-up copy of the data. It denotes a process that entails creating an exact replica of digital data. Since bitstream copying is an essential element of the digital preservation approaches, it is only a short-term method for preserving data. This is because it only concerns the question of data loss due to software or hardware failure caused by normal system failure, natural disaster, or malicious destruction (Oehlerts & Liu, 2013). Occasionally, the bit stream copying method is used together with remote (offsite) storage to eliminate the possibility of the original and the duplicate being subject to a similar disastrous occasion (Oehlerts & Liu, 2013). Therefore, even for the least valued data, bit stream copying should be the last maintenance strategy to be taken into consideration.
This technique is mostly based on preservation of the technical surrounding that operates the system comprising media drives, software applications, operating systems, etc. Occasionally, it is referred to as the “computer museum” approach (Ross, 2012). Technology preservation can be perceived as a disaster retrieval strategy for an operation with digital data that are not subject to preserving (Roland & Bawden, 2012). It provides the possibility to tackle the issues related to obsolescence regardless of the fact that the media might become outdated to an extent that they are not readable. In other words, it offers an extended window, which enables to access outdated formats and media types, which will be even a more controversial issue in the course of time (Ross, 2012). This is because no archaic technological solution can be indefinitely retained operational. Therefore, it is not a strategy recommended for an organization, since maintaining outdated technology requires great expenditures on equipment and workforce.
This technique involves the activities to preserve information from spoiled media or from out-of-date or damaged software and hardware environments. It is clearly a strategy for recovering data in emergency situations, which normally involves effective techniques to retrieve the data from unreadable media as a result of magnetic tape crumpling or hardware failure due to physical destruction (Roland & Bawden, 2012). Generally, the digital archaeology technique is performed by data recovery firms owning diverse hardware together with special amenities, for example, clean rooms required to dismantle hard drives (Oehlerts & Liu, 2013). The major disadvantage is obvious in case the data content is very old. Thus, it might be impossible to render it and make it understandable, although readable bitstreams can frequently be retrieved even from massively damaged media.
According to this approach, the digital objects are transformed into analog data using a long-lasting analog media such as HD Rosetta. In particular occasions, an analog duplicate of a digital data can conserve the content and safeguard it from becoming obsolete; however, it sacrifices the digital qualities of the data such as lossless transferability (Oehlerts & Liu, 2013). This transfer is mostly compatible with monochromatic still, text, and images. This technique is however disadvantageous as it is only relevant for documents with redundant contents (Roland & Bawden, 2012). In addition, it is an expensive practice and analog backups are only relevant to specific classes of documents.
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Dependence on Standards
An important consideration in digital preservation is following well-known standards, which often define the appropriate conditions for less supported formats. Depending significantly on standards during digital preservation disregards the possibility of compatibility problems attributable to the development of the applications software and operating system. Primarily, this is because they will be managed by the continuing urge to handle the standard within the novel environment, and presumably such standards will withstand (Burda & Teuteberg, 2013). For instance, in the event JPEG2000 standard is adopted extensively, the total number of users’ warranty that software for encoding, decoding, and rendering JPEG2000 images will be improved in accordance with needs of new models of CPUs and operating systems meets the demands of new operating systems and CPUs (Oehlerts & Liu, 2013). An improvement on standards reliance is normalization, wherein all digital objects of a similar type such as structured texts or colored images are transformed into an individual selected file format. This format is believed to be the best compromise in such properties as their functionality, preservability, and permanency (Burda & Teuteberg, 2013). Dependence on standards may reduce the instant threat to a digital document from obsolescence, but it is no longer a lasting preservation resolution.
This represents a system invented to enable the users to perceive whether the essential properties of a file or document are retained in case of transformation between the formats (Oehlerts & Liu, 2013). Canonicalization depends on the development representing a particular kind of digital material which delivers all of its main peculiarities in a precise manner. Once developed, this approach might enable validation that a file has preserved its essence.
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For successful digital preservation, not only the type of technology applied is essential but also the development of a preservation policy. This enables the staff and stakeholders to be aware of every aspect concerning digital preservation. This enables to answer a number of questions, in particular, when, how, where, and the importance of records being digitally preserved. These management tools are to help organizations in developing and sustaining a precise, widespread, and amenable documentation and curation data to promote knowledgeable decision-making concerning digital content management and standards-based practice across technology generations. Moreover, each organization is expected to participate in these practices. Nonetheless, digital preservation also faces various challenges. First, the users have limited access to the content as a digital object constantly requires software environment to deliver it. These environments also do not remain constant but continue evolving, posing a threat to accessibility of the content. Second, the development of reliable digital sources with sufficient and viable resources is a challenge, as this is complicated due to the quantity of digital information being developed in accord with the proliferation of format types. Third, digital preservation is costly as it requires a large investment and also expenses incurred during data storage, data management, and staffing, while the rewards are not enjoyed as they apply mainly to future generations. If these challenges are resolved, then ample chances for experimentation, research, and development in the near future become available. Digital preservation has also been fostered through creation of a number of source products that help in digital preservation and digital preservation software tools being made available by the commercial sector.