Vulnerable small

Materials saved to storage devices with a variety of underlying magnetic or solid-state (flash) technologies that are hardwired into a computer still under warranty or supported: typically hard disks that are less than five years old.

Group: Storage

Trend in 2021:

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

increased riskTrend towards greater risk

Previous classification: Vulnerable


Trend in 2022:


No change No Change


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 many people and sectors.

Effort to Preserve

It would require a small effort to preserve materials in this group, requiring the application of proven tools and techniques.


Direct Attached Storage (DAS) such as Magnetic or solid-state drives integrated into individual laptop or workstations and into smaller scale storage facilities.

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Encryption; poor handling; poor storage; lack of consistent replication; failure of external (dependencies e.g., suppliers, security); political or commercial interference; failure of internal dependencies (e.g., power supply, disk controller); overly aggressive compression; poor information security; lack of integrity-checking; lack of strategic investment; lack of warranty; unenforceable warranty; encryption.

‘Lower Risk’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Backup to different technology; backup to diverse locations; documentation of assets; integrity checking; preservation planning; refreshment planning; export functionality; resilient to hacking; selection and appraisal criteria; version control; resilient funding; technology watch; enforceable warranty; disaster planning.

2021 Jury Review

This entry was added in 2019 to ensure that the range of media storage is properly assessed and presented. It was reviewed in 2020 with no noted change towards greater or reduced risk.
While the 2021 Jury agreed with the current Vulnerable classification, they added a trend towards greater risk in light of the continued shift towards reliance on cloud storage with computers increasingly reducing hard disk for solid-state storage and commercial motivations for less support. As people increasingly select other storage methods such as cloud, they are less likely to maintain existing content on portable hard disks, which means the portable hard disks are more likely to be overlooked or ignored (e.g., left in drawers) rather than checked and refreshed.

Additional Comments

See also: Digital Preservation Coalition (2016) ‘Storage’ in Digital Preservation Handbook (Second Edition), online at

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