Preservation Tools

Software tools provide us with a way of automating specific and possibly complex or repetitive tasks. When applied to digital preservation they can help us solve very focused problems such as identifiying a file format or extracting metadata. They can also help to coordinate a number of atomic tools in a workflow perhaps as part of a trusted digital repository system. Read more in the Digital Preservation Handbook section on Tools.

Finding preservation tools

The COPTR registry brings together listings of preservation tools from a number of different sources, and makes it easy to browse using tags that describe the function of the tools. The COPTR data can also be viewed via the Digital POWRR project Tool Grid, which makes navigation even easier. COPTR is a wiki, and contributions of new tools or experiences in using the tools are very welcome.

Getting started

Digital preservation tools are not always easy to use, and to get the most out of them you may want to work from the command line. This does not however have to be intimidating or challenging! The Siegried file format identification tool is a great place to start, and there are simple step by step instructions on the home page here.

Also see - test corpora

Samples of files to work with can be incredibly helpful, whether setting up and trying out a new tool for the first time, validating it's effectiveness before moving into an a production environment or even testing the tool while it's under development. There are a number of useful sources for Test Corpora - see the detailed list on

For more from the DPC on specific preservation tools and how to apply them, browse the tags below:

Parent Tags



Trends in the Use of Digital Preservation Tools

More and more diverse digital material is pouring into the archives of heritage institutions, often also in large amounts. This makes automatic processing necessary. Which preservation tools are used by the digital heritage institutions? Ania Molenda, project leader of the Preservation Tools project at the Dutch Digital Heritage Network, asks this and other questions to the heritage field. She incorporated the results of her research in a report The Use of Preservation Tools among Dutch...

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Putting archives into bags

Adam Harwood is a Research Data & Digital Preservation Technologist at the University of Sussex.  The University of Sussex Library Special Collections is taking a whole new approach to digital preservation this year and will embrace the do it yourself for no money philosophy. The goal is to use a suite of open source tools and existing infrastructure at the University to create a digital archive. I’ve been testing out a few different open source tools recently and putting together...

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Undateables – methods for determining date ranges for born-digital documents when file system dates go bad

Paul Young is Digital Preservation Specialist/Researcher at the National Archives UK What’s the problem? Determining reliable dates for digital records can be a source of frustration, especially when confronted with a large volume of digital files with dates that are obviously incorrect, such as why your Microsoft Word Document 1997 version dates from 1st January 1970. Dates are very important for The National Archives in particular as we look to transfer records from departments under...

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Doing Digital Preservation

Adam Harwood is Research Data and Digital Preservation Technologist at the University of Sussex For two and a half years we have been talking about doing digital preservation here in Special Collections at the University of Sussex.  We've also been convincing various people that we should be doing digital preservation.  We've been holding meetings, giving presentations, obtaining resources, evaluating products, reading blogs, figuring out integrations, working through possible...

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{jcomments on}  Andrea Goethals works at the National Library of New Zealand Recently I unexpectedly found myself with extra time on my hands, as I was preparing to take a new position halfway around the world. Like most of you, I’m assuming, I normally don’t get the time to go back and reread some of my favorite digital preservation papers, discover new favorites I missed previously, or to follow the sourced papers to see where it takes me. Because my interests lie in what it...

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New preservation tools and tricks from the Dutch Digital Heritage Network

Do you work for a heritage institution and are you involved in sustainable access to digital materials? Between 2015 and 2017, the Dutch Heritage Network has delivered a series of digital preservation tools and expertise for use by digital heritage professionals like you!

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Appraising Appraisal and picking the right tool for the job

For the past few years I’ve been working as Digital Archivist in Special Collections at the University of Leeds Library, and it’s been a slow and often frustrating shuffle toward a digital preservation ‘solution’ here while we try to balance that good old three legged stool of technology, organisation and resources mentioned by Sarah Mason in a previous post. I deal with literary archives and collections which are either entirely born-digital or hybrids of paper and digital, and our...

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Obsolescence 2.0 Digital Preservation by people, for people

On Sale at All Good Pharmacies: Eternal Life There’s a paradox that links digital preservation with medicine. Digital preservation systems are subject to the same obsolescence that they exist to guard against: and even great doctors catch colds. I believe my doctor is mortal but that doesn’t mean I reject her advice. Her advice is not intrinsically dependent on her own experience but is situated within a global, dynamic community of research and practice. The medical profession deals with the...

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Procuring Digital Preservation: A Briefing

Introduction Selecting and deploying solutions is challenging enough in well-established business processes: but where the processes are new, or where the available resource to support procurement is stretched, moving from project to ‘business as usual’ can be hard.  It helps that a healthy market of digital preservation tools and services is emerging rapidly, into which a series of companies and not-for-profit agencies are now supplying products. And so digital preservation staff are...

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International Digital Curation Conference 2017 Edinburgh

As was to be expected, technology was a common theme running through many of the sessions at this year’s digital curation conference. As a LAM devotee and PhD student, I spend much of my time immersed in theories and policies, so this exposure to the newest tools is very useful. As I steer my attention toward my own research on digital objects in cultural heritage settings, IIIF is emerging as a potential tool. Pronounced “triple I-F”, the tool was highlighted brilliantly in Neal Stewart’s...

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Highlights from the E-ARK Conference

{jcomments on} Over the last three years, the partners of the E-ARK Project have worked together to develop and test specifications and tools for the creation and management of information packages for preservation. Around this work they have also been busily undertaking complementary research and resource creation, resulting in a wide variety of new and improved practical solutions for those undertaking digital preservation activities. On a crisp, cold day at the beginning of December...

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DPA 2014: Jpylyzer, a JP2 validator and extractor - KB (National Library of the Netherlands) and Partners

The JPEG 2000 standard and its JP2 still image format are steadily gaining popularity in the archival community. An increasing number of cultural heritage institutions are now using JP2 as the preferred format for the storage of preservation masters and access copies within large-scale digitisation programs. If JP2 is used as a preservation format, it is vital to ensure that images are not damaged, and that they are compliant with the format’s specifications. In addition, institutions may have...

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DPA 2014: bwFLA - Functional Long-term Archival and Access - University of Freiburg and Partners

Today's research as well as significant parts of cultural activity are conducted using electronic equipment, most notable computer systems and to some extent mobile electronic gadgets. Even more importantly, many born-digital assets are inextricably linked with their creation environment, which means that they require a specific runtime environment to be rendered and to restore their original utility, look-and-feel and performance. These runtime environments, however, are...

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The veraPDF consortium will deliver a definitive validator for PDF/A: an authoritative corpus of test files establishing the objective frame of reference for validation of all parts and conformance levels of PDF/A, an open¬source, and a purpose¬built validator and policy checker to implement the collecting policies of memory institutions. We expect a vibrant community will develop to sustain these efforts. The veraPDF consortium brings together a unique network of stakeholders with...

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In co-operation with commercial systems providers, E-ARK will create and pilot a pan-European methodology for electronic document archiving, synthesising existing national and international best practices, which will keep records and databases authentic and usable over time. The methodology will be implemented in an open pilot in various national contexts, using existing, near-to-market tools, and services developed by the partners. This will allow memory institutions and their clients...

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SPRUCE (Sustainable PReservation Using Community Engagement) was a collaborative project funded by Jisc and led by the University of Leeds. It offered a series of 'Mash-up' events throughout 2012 and 2013 to put developers and collection owners in touch with each other. DPC supported elements of community engagement in digital preservation and in particular was charged with working up elements of a business case for preservation. Visit the SPRUCE website for more information. Project...

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Practical Tools for Digital Preservation: A Hack-a-thon

As volumes and complexity of data grow, so digital preservation processes rely on increasingly automated tools and processes. But preservation actions are often specific to the workflows and functions of individual institutions. So, although our toolkit has grown significantly, the very particular demands of individual workflows create a subtle and stubborn gap between tools and their deployment. This frustrates archivists and curatorial staff who want to simplify and automate their...

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