Content preservation is perhaps one of the more challenging sections of DPC RAM and one that many institutions make progress on only once other elements of digital preservation are more established. It focuses on the need to be able to enable digital content to be rendered and understood for the long term.

My top tip for this section of RAM is to communicate your needs to management - whether this be for more training, for more time or more resource. If there is something that is stopping you from moving forward, don’t let it get forgotten. Make sure you are vocal and visible.” - Nicola Steele, Grosvenor Estates


  • Avoid the trap of performing digital preservation actions pre-emptively. Only change digital content when there is a clear risk or access need.

  • Use tools such as DROID to gain an understanding of what you have and to start to consider the preservation risks and actions that may need to be taken. DROID not only helps identify the file format of your files but can also highlight files that are password protected.

  • Supplement information gathered with file format identification tools with a more in-depth understanding of particular file formats such as that provided by the Library of Congress’s Recommended Format Statement.

  • Think carefully about whether file format validation is a necessary step in your workflow. A number of validation tools are available for different content types to check whether a  file conforms to a particular file format specification. These tools are used widely in digital preservation, but do not assume they are always a useful step in your preservation workflow without establishing why you need them and how you might act on the results.They may provide valuable information you could use to improve a content creation or migration workflow but in many cases may just create additional metadata that you may never act on. On this topic, this blog post from Paul Wheatley is well worth reading: A valediction for validation?

  • Remember that the preservation actions that you carry out need to be chosen with an eye on user needs. Current and future users and use cases for the digital content should help inform your decisions with regard to preservation approach.

  • Communicate your needs (and the needs of the content you are preserving) to senior management. Some of the actions within this section of RAM can be quite time consuming and may require additional resource, knowledge or skills. Having a clear picture of what you are trying to achieve and why will help with making the case for this work.

  • Adopt a suitable metadata standard (e.g. PREMIS) to enable key information about any preservation actions you take to be fully captured.

Helpful resourcesRAMSignpostBackground

Case studiesRAMCaseBackground

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