When digital preservation really matters...

Of course digital preservation always matters* but recent events in York and beyond over the festive period really do highlight the importance of looking after your stuff - both physical and digital.

Not everyone is lucky enough to get much warning before a disaster of any type strikes but in some situations (such as that which I found myself in just after Christmas) we have some time to prepare.

Hang on...there isn't normally a lake near my house

Beyond relocating important things such as the hamster and photo albums upstairs and moving the Christmas decorations higher up the tree, it is also important to remember the digital....

Digital is robust in some respects but perhaps more at risk in others. Robust in that it is possible to very quickly make as many additional copies as you like and store them in different places (perfect for a disaster scenario such as this), but the risk is that it is more easily forgotten.

Of course I back up my personal data (digital photographs mostly) regularly, but with the chaos of the build up to Christmas I had not done so for a few weeks, so was prompted to do so before unplugging the PC and moving it to higher ground.

We were some of the lucky ones in York - the water levels didn't reach us so the preparations were not necessary but others were not so lucky. Many houses and businesses in York and in other areas of the country were flooded and many did not have the luxury of time to prepare for the worst. The very basics of digital preservation, (maintaining a regular back up strategy and storing copies of the data in different locations) really is something that should happen in a proactive way not just in response to specific threats.

* I have to say that - it is in my job description

Jenny Mitcham, Digital Archivist


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