Source: Archive History
Digital archives can greatly enhance the preservation and sharing of historical information.
An historical photograph archive intended to be accessible for at least 50 years will be handled differently than a personal photograph collection.
The master images in an historical archive are intended to be suitable for many different uses for decades in the future. The documentation for an item perpetually stays with the master image.
Working copies of the master images are made when adapting the images for particular uses.
At least three copies of the archive should be maintained, including at least one copy at a different location. Distributing copies of the archive to others can achieve this result.
With current technology, the digital files in the archive should be transferred to new storage media at least approximately every two to four years. This needs to be done even when the person establishing the archive is no longer able to do it.
For family archives, a good strategy for long-term preservation of the original items after the digital images have been made is to donate the items to a museum, library, or archive.
A backup copy of a digital archive must be made because the disk drive on a computer can irretrievably fail at any time. I had a hard disk failure several years ago and know a person who had a complete disk failure twice in the past few years. Also, backup copies are important protection from viruses and other malware that are a major threat to a computer system. Of course, backup copies of the entire computer system should also be made in addition to the historical archives.
Backups should be done frequently and migrated to new media. The media for storing the backup changes as technology advances. A few years ago I used CDs and DVDs for backup. Now I use external disk drives. An historical archive must be migrated to new media as technology changes. The idea that a person can make one backup copy that will last for decades is not applicable. The backup copy can fail and also has a high probability of becoming obsolete media. For an organization with a professionally managed computer network, backups will normally be handled by an Information Technology Department and should meet the criteria described here.
At least three copies of an archive should be maintained, and preferably more. At least one of the copies should be in a different location. The minimum copies of my historical archives typically include:
1. The primary copy on my computer.
2. A backup copy on an external drive by the computer.
3. Another backup copy on an external drive that is in a safe deposit box at a bank.
4. One or more copies on Blu-Ray that have been given to people who are interested in the archive.
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