Thursday, October 22, 2015

Preparing for format migration

Preparing for format migration. Chris Erickson. Presentation to the Utah State Archives fall conference. October 22, 2015. [PDF presentation]
     The presentation begins with terms and definitions of digital preservation, obsolescence, fixity, migration, refreshing, and formats. Formats include hardware, software, media, and systems. The purpose of migration is:
  1. Avoid media failure
  2. Avoid obsolescence
  3. Benefit from new technologies
The goal of migration is to change the object to deal with software and hardware developments but not affect the original representation. There are some cautions (cited):
  • “Data migration success rates are never 100%”
  • Successive storage/migration cycles accumulate failures, data corruption and loss.
  • Even if data migration is flawless, repeated migrations will take its toll on the data “the nearly universal experience has been that migration is labor-intensive, time-consuming, expensive, error-prone, and fraught with the danger of losing or corrupting information.”
The presentation provides an overview of creating a migration plan, advance preparations and follow up actions. Some of the issues are from my personal data migrations, as well as corporate examples. In the end, it is important to clearly understand what you have and what you need to do, then to start, even if it is a small step.

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