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Digital Preservation

Welcome to the Modern Record Centre's guide to digital preservation. We have a digital preservation policyLink opens in a new window which explains what we aim to do and how we approach digital preservation. These web pages give more detail on how you as a creator can be a part of the preservation process.

The Modern Records Centre exists to preserve and make available resources for the study of British social, political and economic history. These resources are now increasingly digital documents, spreadsheets, emails, web pages and all the things familiar to us as part of our digital lives.

But it’s all backed up isn’t it? But is it? And where and by whom? Have you ever clicked on a link and got a “Page not found" message? Have you tried to open a file and found it was corrupted or in a format that couldn’t be read? Have you ever accidentally deleted a file? Or just couldn’t find it? These are all real issues for us as we try and ensure we have as rich a resource about late twentieth and twenty first century events as we do about those of earlier periods.

Digital can be fragile but there is a lot we can do to help prevent the loss of our digital heritage. If you are creating any digital content that you want to be available for the future then explore the links below which give guidelines on how best to create and manage your files.

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Creating Your Files

When we create a digital file the meaningful content or message we care about is encoded into a sequence of binary digits, formatted in a particular way.

In order to turn the formatted binary into understandable information we rely on a combination of software and hardware to interpret it and present it to us in a meaningful way.

Organising Your Files

Organising your files ranges from naming them appropriately, to structuring them in a consistent manner, to effective version control. As the number of files you are responsible for increases over time, good organisation can prevent them from becoming unmanageable.

Describing Your Files

Descriptions of your files, also known as metadata, help to provide context and interpretation to your content.

Describing your files effectively is a really important step in making sure that your files can be managed, retrieved, shared and can be understood by others.

Storing Your Files

Having a resilient storage strategy for your digital files is an extremely important aspect of managing digital information. This is because many physical storage media are inherently fragile. The use of popular online services for storage may not be desirable because of issues around storing potentially reserved, restricted or protected data on 3rd party servers.

Depositing Your Files

Depositing your collection with an archive such as the Modern Records Centre or a data repository will help to preserve the material for future generations. It can also help to make material available to researchers worldwide and increase the visibility of your or your organisation's work.

Resources and References

Glossary and further reading