13. Storage of files for the long term

Infrastructure permitting automated checking of data integrity, media migration, and, finally, format migration with a minimum use of manpower is now in regular use within the archival community (see IASA-TC 04, 6.2). At the time of writing, these range from small-scale systems of around 16 TB to petabyte size repositories. Such management software exists both as expensive proprietary solutions and as freeware. Even if an archive decides such a system is beyond its means, it should not postpone digitisation, but consider using discrete data carriers such as data tapes or HDDs for offline storage, and initiate manual checking procedures.

Responsible preservation of digital data requires systems and a technical infrastructure, the monitoring of the condition of files, and the existence of plans for media migration and format migration. All of these topics and more are discussed in standards associated with the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model (ISO 14721) and in documents pertaining to Trusted Digital Repositories (ISO 16363).


While the cost of hardware and software for long term preservation is within reach of many audiovisual archives, the archive must ensure that it possesses the knowledge base required to run and maintain such a system. In manual approaches, as opposed to automated storage systems, the lower cost of hardware and software has to be offset against a considerably increased requirement for labour, with all its implications in terms of risk to the carriers and staff costs (see IASA-TC 04, 6.5).