A common question is "just what is digital preservation?" While a common perception is that digital preservation is essentially just a backup (or multiple backups) of materials, digital preservation actually goes far beyond the concept of backups or a mere technical storage solution. According to the JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) article Digital Preservation: Continued Access to Authentic Digital Assets,
"Disaster recovery strategies and backup systems are not sufficient to ensure survival and access to authentic digital resources over time. A backup is a short-term data recovery solution following loss or corruption and is fundamentally different to an electronic preservation archive."
Key components of a highly functional digital preservation system include: a database that tracks preservation actions taken on each content object to include recording events, agents and objects; active checking of the fixity on archived objects to ensure the integrity of archived materials; and alerts to archive managers of any unauthorized changes to archived materials. An excellent summary of digital preservation's core components can be found in the Digital Preservation Management Workshop and Tutorial initially developed and hosted at Cornell University. Details of preservation activities required of a trustworthy digital repository and examples of how these requirements can be fulfilled can be found in the Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities along with the Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification(TRAC): Criteria and Checklist,Digital preservation repositories can be certified as Trustworthy Digital Repositories (TDR) by the Center for Research Libraries, and self-certification of digital preservation repositories using the Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities and TRAC Criteria and Checklist are also encouraged. The NDSA Levels of Preservation are a quick way to evaluate your organization's preservation efforts which offer .
tutorialDigital preservation policies are a good idea to document an organization’s commitment to preserve digital content for future use, specify file formats to be preserved, the level of preservation to be provided, and ensure compliance with standards and best practices for responsible stewardship of digital information. Digital preservation strategies and actions address content creation, integrity and maintenance.
Content creation includes:
Clear and complete technical specifications
Production of reliable master files
Sufficient descriptive, administrative and structural metadata to ensure future access
Detailed quality control of processes
Use of persistent identifiers
Content integrity includes:
Documentation of all policies, strategies and procedures
Recorded provenance and change history for all objects
Attention to security requirements
Content maintenance includes:
A robust computing and networking infrastructure
Storage and synchronization of files at multiple sites
Continuous monitoring and management of files
Programs for refreshing, migration and emulation
Creation and testing of disaster prevention and recovery plans
Periodic review and updating of policies and procedures