How to Preserve and Protect Your Digital Data

Jeremy Dunn

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The annual ARMA Live! conference is being held in Orlando starting Oct. 15. As usual, the event will deliver an abundance of useful information regarding records management.

This year, there will be a session on preserving and protecting digital data. In fact, there will be speakers from digital preservation specialist Preservica, who plan to discuss the rising importance of protecting long-term digital information, and provide case studies. This is an issue that all records managers need to address, as the number of digital records continues to accumulate for many organizations.

As you will likely learn at the 2017 ARMA Live event, digital preservation and protection strategies are paramount for all organizations. Digital Preservation Management has provided strategies that can help determine how secure your data is.

Data migration is becoming a more prevalent method of preserving digital information. This involves the copying and converting of data from one technology to another, including both hardware and software. Data migration preserves the crucial characteristics of the digital files. Furthermore, it preserves the integrity of the data and maintains the capability to retrieve, access and display data despite the change in technology. Basically, migration protects an organization from data loss and preserves digital records when switching to an updated technology.

As Digital Preservation Management pointed out, reliance on standards is a way to strengthen the encoding and formatting of digital data. This is accomplished by conforming to higher quality standards as opposed to more obscure (and less supported) ones. Such standards are sustainable, and any compatibility issues resulting from changes in technology will be managed by the constant need to accommodate the standard within the updated system. Reliance on standards typically decreases the instantaneous threat to digital objects from desuetude, thus preserving and protecting data long-term.

Data normalization is a method used within an archival repository. All digital data, regardless of type, is converted into a specific single format. This format is supposed to be the best overall conciliation when it comes to functionality, durability and preservability. The data is available for access among authorized users in the event of data loss from the main server.

However, data is not always fully intact once converted or transferred. Therefore, canonicalization (also known as standardization) is the method that determines if crucial components of data have remained intact following a data conversion or transfer. If data is not fully intact, it is difficult to preserve. Canonicalization depends on the formation of a representative type of digital item that expresses all of its essential characteristics in a highly-deterministic fashion. Once formed, the digital files can be analyzed to determine if they have (or have not) remained fully intact. If something is not intact, the digital files may need to be reconverted.

Preserving data long-term is vital for all organizations. If you want to learn more about this topic — and many others — attend ARMA LIVE!, starting Oct. 15 in Orlando. Learn more on this topic at “The Governance of Long-term Digital Information: Key Findings from the IGI 2017” – running from 2:45 – 3:45 p.m. on Sunday, October 15.

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    Sharon Morris October 16, 2017

    Great article

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