Saturday, February 27, 2016

Back in a Flash

Back in a Flash. Edith Halvarsson. Open Preservation Foundation, ehalvarsson's Blog. 27 Jan 2016.
     Flashback is a proof of concept project run by the British Library’s Digital Preservation Team that examines emulation and migration solutions as methods for preserving the content on CD, DVD , 3.5” and 5.25” disks.  The team acquired original hardware for their legacy lab to analyze and deal with content from those formats. They have found that the old hardware can have problems. The first step is a capture process which extracts data from the storage media and characterizes its physical components and lists the files on the media. The content can be placed in a controlled environment that ensures that the bits are retained regardless of deteriorating storage media. The technical information about the content is important for preservation planning.

For less complex content such as text the solution is to migrate the file from for old or obsolete formats to  more contemporary and reliable formats. The large majority of the content though is so "tightly bound up with its original environment that it cannot be migrated", which is the case for software. For these, the option is to emulate the item’s original hardware and software environment which were supplied by the University of Freiburg via BwFLA – Emulation As A Service. Flashback is gathering data about the performance and viability of emulating groups and comparing characteristics of the software on original hardware and emulators. 

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