How does DSpace preserve digital material?

Digital Material

How does DSpace preserve digital material?

DSpace itself does not guarantee the preservation of your digital materials. However, DSpace software is suited to play a central role in your overall digital preservation strategy. Keep in mind that your local digital preservation strategy should likely include a backup/restore plan, along with virus checking, etc.

How does DSpace software preserve digital material?

DSpace allows you to identify two levels of digital preservation: bit preservation, and functional preservation. Bit preservation ensures that a file remains exactly the same over time - not a single bit is changed - while the physical media evolve around it. Functional preservation goes further: the file does change over time so that the material continues to be immediately usable in the same way it was originally while the digital formats (and physical media) evolve over time. Some file formats can be functionally preserved using straightforward format migration, such as TIFF images or XML documents. Other formats are proprietary, or for other reasons are much harder to preserve functionally. No one can predict the formats all users will choose for their research material. They use the best tools for their purposes, and research institutions will get whatever formats those tools produce. For this reason, DSpace allows you to choose three levels of preservation for a given format: supported, known, or unsupported.

DSpace preserve digital material?

Supported formats are those you feel you can functionally preserved using either format migration or emulation techniques. Examples include TIFF, SGML, XML, AIFF, and PDF.

Known formats are those that you can't promise to preserve, such as proprietary or binary formats, but which are so popular that third party migration tools will likely emerge to help with format migration. Examples include Microsoft Word and Powerpoint, Lotus 1-2-3, and WordPerfect.

Unsupported formats are those that you don't know enough about to do any sort of functional preservation. This would include some proprietary formats or a one-of-a-kind software program.

It is important to note that, although DSpace provides some default values for Supported, Known and Unknown formats, your institution should determine the appropriate values based on your local preservation strategy.


DSpace also provides other tools to help you to meet your preservation goals:


Checksum Checker- This tool can be scheduled to perform a full fixity (checksum) check of all (or some) content files stored in your DSpace instance.

For more information on the Checksum Checker, see the "Checksum Checker" section of the DSpace Documentation's System Administration chapter