Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Digital file formats

Digital file formats

From: Robert K. MacDowell <macdowell_r>
Date: Sunday, November 19, 2000
I'd appreciate comments concerning computer file formats that would
be suitable for archiving photographs and other graphics and text.

I raise this issue because I have experienced sending files to my
correspondents in Microsoft Word 2000 and having the recipient
discover that he could not open the files. In prior times, when I
had Word 97, there was no problem (he has some version of Corel Word
Perfect). So, I'm assuming that even if I did save text in Word 2000
that the word processing programs in vogue at some later date will
be unable to deal with Word 2000.

Are we going to be better off saving files in un-formatted plain
text (such as Microsoft WordPad, which is part of Microsoft Windows?
What happens if the whole World switches to Linux and ditches
Microsoft programs?)

Also, I see a trend where people are saving images in the JPEG
(.jpg) format, and that concerns me because this is a compressed
format and much detail that would be present in an non-compressed
format such as TIFF (.tif) is forever lost.

And what is the current thinking re the media that will be most
durable? I'm thinking of purchasing a CD RW drive so that I can save
important info on CD's, and understand that the projected lifetime
of a CD might run up to 100-years or so. That seems to imply that
really important data will have to be re-written periodically to
guarantee its survival.

Some librarians seem to feel that printing on paper is going to be
superior in the long run, and, indeed, one might argue that saving
the original paper and photographic images is the way to go?

    **** Moderator's comments: Much of this has been discussed
    before in some detail in the DistList, and in basic texts on
    digital preservation issues. Please see the DistList archives
    and the Electronic Records page in Conservation OnLine. Please
    try to keep responses limited to information that has not
    already been worked over.

Robert K. MacDowell
MacDowell Restorations
Waterford, Virginia, USA

                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:29
                 Distributed: Monday, November 20, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-14-29-034
Received on Sunday, 19 November, 2000

[Search all CoOL documents]