Native Cloud Formats

   Critically Endangered small

This entry covers all native cloud formats that exist within a cloud system but cannot be exported in their native format. The data for these formats is held within the system and they are rendered within a browser.

Digital Species: Formats, Cloud

New Entry

Consensus Decision

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within three years, detailed assessment within one year.

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve | Inevitability

It would require a major effort to prevent or reduce losses in this group, possibly requiring the development of new preservation tools or techniques.


The most widely known example of this is Google formats such as Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Jamboard.

‘Practically Extinct’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Lack of preservation capacity in provider; dependence on proprietary products or formats; lack of export functionality; insufficient documentation; lack of conformance or validation; lack of preservation commitment or planning; inaccessibility to automated web crawlers.

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Reduction of dependencies; improved export functionality; clear migration pathways; application of records management standards; version control; integrity checking; comprehensive documentation; access to web harvesting; technology watch.

2023 Review

This is a new Bit List entry added in 2023 to draw attention to the particular challenges of preserving native cloud content that cannot be exported and preserved in their native cloud formats. While there are some similarities with the ‘Cloud-based Services and Communications Platforms’ entry risks relating to dependencies on service and provider business models and the terms and conditions imposed, this entry focuses specifically on the distinct risks relating to preservation of digital content and data in native cloud formats (with these formats held within cloud-based systems and rendered within web-based browsers). Currently, in order to view the files outside of the system, an export format has to be chosen (e.g., PDF, Microsoft Office, HTML). This process has issues with proving the integrity of the exports, as conventional methods (such as checksum) are not valid. There is also the issue that the original cloud formats hold all edits and versions, the export may only preserve the current version of the file without edit history and misleading revision identifiers. As the cloud formats are browser based web archiving options have also been explored but there is no current automated way to harvest a large collection of files. For these reasons, major efforts are needed to develop new tools and techniques to capture and preserve the data to prevent or reduce loss.

Additional Comments

There are case studies already in development demonstrating good progress in this area, for example from the TNA and University of Sheffield, which will be shared as part of a DPC event on 14th November 2023. This is shortly after the publication of the 2023 Bit List but the recordings and outputs will be shared for inclusion in the next Bit List report.


Case Studies or Examples:

See also:

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