Jon Tilbury

Jon Tilbury

Last updated on 20 September 2021

Jonathan Tilbury is CTO and Founder of Preservica based in the UK

From corporate to academic, charity to government, archives around the world are working harder than ever making sure that the events of the past year are documented for generations to come. With lessons to be learnt from this global health pandemic, and the end not quite in sight, having easy, automated, and affordable digital preservation software accessible to every archive, especially those with limited resources, has never been so important. The more people using digital preservation, the greater the benefit for all, but with this comes an increase in the number of non-expert users.

Luckily, there are a number of initiatives that will bring all these threads together to create an ecosystem that re-uses community expertise to deliver best practice digital preservation in an automated manner.

Managing File Formats

The digital preservation community has a proud history of collaborating to solve complex issues and the rise of commercial products should not stand in the way, especially in times like these. File format management is a major concern that needs expert input and thorough testing that is beyond the capability of existing users – you just have to mention “CODEC” and see them wince!

New digital preservation users will have even less interest in the inner workings of information management systems and their formats – the next generation of archivists and information management professionals will be from a generation that just expect computers to work. As information continues to change at a faster rate, and becomes more complex and diverse, its inner workings will only become more opaque.

Preservation Action Registries (PAR)

In the collaborative tradition of the digital preservation community and with the support of Jisc and ODF, Preservica, Artefactual and Arkivum have teamed together to form the Preservation Action Registries (PAR). PAR has defined a new standard for exchanging Preservation Action information so experts and practitioners can exchange information on best practice and minimise the challenge of complex information management processes. The first version is available and a browser is available online. Importantly more partners are continuing to sign up to the initiative, so more information is shared with the community.

PAR can be utilised by a broad selection of the digital preservation community and beyond – experts, product companies, practitioners and academics can all share best practice on file format identification, property extraction, validation, migration and rendering. An initiative like this has the power to become the de-facto standard for the exchange of Preservation Actions across the whole community.


At Preservica, we now use PAR for all of our internal digital preservation actions. Given the quality of these actions has improved, we’re now also exploring how these can be grouped into sensible and thoroughly tested rule sets that users can use to perform their own preservation actions too. So, instead of setting up migrations for every video format you can think of (how many PUDIs do you know!?), we’ve reached a point where it’s possible to choose the option to “Migrate all videos to MP4 for Access” and the system will do it for you.

The future is now! The first version of this capability is due to be introduced into Preservica’s platform later in 2020 and will enable automated migration on ingest and manually imitated migration post-ingest by applying the policy to all content. Future developments will also be fully automated as formats are kept in step retrospectively with the current policy which can be switched on and off at any time.

Extending what is possible

This AutoPreservation is one of a number of automation features to be released into the standard product, adding to content harvesting automation, to transfer information between active and preservation platforms based on simple rules and retention management built into your DP system. This all makes the job of the user easier – we want to get to a place where you set the rules and policy and the processes take care of themselves.

Digital Preservation For All

Preservation is (and has to be) for everyone – and in the future it will become more and more accessible. Now file format preservation is fully automated based on expert advice from the whole community it is possible to support a whole new generation of users.

In fact, Preservica has just announced a Starter edition as an easy and affordable new entry level product that enables institutions with limited resources to start preserving and sharing digital content and records online – in minutes.



Built on the trusted Preservica platform, this new and intuitive application is currently being rolled out to our early access users. Starter combines the best community advice gleaned from PAR with a simple and intuitive user experience to provide the best digital preservation capability to users who don’t even realise it is happening!

With easy, affordable and accessible digital preservation solutions for institutions of all sizes, we really are just at the foothills of a digital preservation revolution. We are set to see digital preservation capabilities built into the information management landscape in a seamless manner across a much larger community than have ever had access before.  

Learn more and kick start your digital preservation journey here

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