Electronic Media and Digital Preservation

See also

Optical disks, CD-Roms, etc.
Various Media
Holographic storage
Responses to "Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Documents"
Frequently Asked Questions


National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA)
NDSA Storage Report: Reflections on National Digital Stewardship Alliance Member Approaches to Preservation Storage Technologies. by Micah Altman, Jefferson Bailey, Karen Cariani, Michelle Gallinger, Jane Mandelbaum, Trevor Owens. May 2013

"The structure and design of digital storage systems is a cornerstone of digital preservation. To better understand ongoing storage practices of organizations committed to digital preservation, the National Digital Stewardship Alliance conducted a survey of member organizations. This article reports on the findings of the survey. The results of the survey provide a frame of reference for organizations to compare their storage system approaches with NDSA member organizations."

Jim Linden, Sean Martin, Richard Masters, & Roderic Parker
The large-scale archival storage of digital objects, Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), Technology Watch Report, Feb. 2005

"This report describes the issues surrounding storage technology from the perspective of a digital repository. It covers the British Librarys thinking that led to conclusions about the design of a system for the preservation storage of digital objects, and the specific conclusions about the preservation storage architecture to adopt. The planning figure for the storage required was that it would grow to over 100 Terabytes (100 thousand gigabytes, or 100 million megabytes) in 3 years."

Public Records Office (PRO)
Selecting Storage Media for Long-Term Preservation (Word document)

Optical disks, CD-Roms, etc.

See also Glossaries, and Holographic storage

The CD-Info Company
CD-R Media Longevity

Das PhotoCD-Forum
In German. Das Wichtigste zur PhotoCD.

Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA) and Ecma International (Ecma)
Standard ECMA-379 Test Method for the Estimation of the Archival Lifetetime of Optical Media (June 2007)
See Full text (PDF)

Luis Facelli
Disco Video Digital (Digital Video Discs), 2004. PowerPoint presentation, in Spanish

Anne R. Kenney and Oya Y. Rieger
Using Kodak Photo CD Technology for Preservation and Access: A Guide for Librarians, Archivists, and Curators

Permanence, Care, and Handling of CDs
Permanence of Kodak Photo CD and Writable CD Media with Infoguard Protection System, June 1993
KODAK: Photo CD Technical Papers
General Information on Kodak CD-R Media

Media Sciences
Frequently Asked Questions About Compact Discs
ISO Standards
Links for Professionals (News and Technology, Technical Support, Test Equipment, CD-R Vendors)

Jerome L. Hartke
Measures of CD-R Longevity
CD-R Media Survey

National Archives and Records Administration
Long-Term Usability of Optical Media The National Archives and Records Administration and the Long-Term Usability of Optical Media for Federal Records: Three Critical Problem Areas
Development of a Testing Methodology to Predict Optical Disk Life Expectancy Values (Summary)

National Institute of Standards and Technology
Government Information Preservation Working Group (NIPWG)
Stability Study of Optical Discs (PDF)

CD-Rom/CD-Audio/Game Console Discs

Linda Schamber
Optical Disk Formats: A Briefing. ERIC Digest


NanoArk Corporation
Waferfiche FAQ
Waferfice overview
Waferfiche specifications
Baztak Oztan, Guarav Sharma, Ajay, Pasupuleti, P.R. Mukund
Processing of Degraded Documents for Long-Term Archival Using Waferfiche Technology, Archiving 2009, IS&T, Arlington VA, May 2009

Various Media

Ampex Virtual Museum and Mailing List

"Dedicated to preserving the history of the most important manufacturer of magnetic recorders, the Ampex Virtual Museum provides online access to:

Manuals, Schematics, and Service Bulletins

Repair, Maintenance, and Modification Tips

Parts Sources

Catalogs, Sales Brochures, and Similar Literature


Ampex history & Other Historical Information

Alignment Instructions

FTP Server for Uploading and Downloading Ampex-related Files"

Audio Engineering Society Historical Committee
An Audio Timeline: A selection of significant events, inventions, products and their purveyors, from cylinder to DVD
Historical Interviews and Talks
3M Analog Magnetic Tape Technology


Delos A. Eilers
Introduction to 3M Audio Open Reel Tape List
3M Audio Open Reel Tapes. 2000

Jay McKnight
A Selected Bibliography of Histories of Magnetic Tape Sound Recording

Oral History Project.
Analog Audio Mastering Tape Print-Through. Technical Bulletin A011194 (PDF)
Stanford Acquires Ampex History Collections. Nov. 2001

Ellen McCrady
NARA Conference on Preserving Tapes & Disks, March 1996: Facts and Advice from the Speakers (Abbey NewsletterVolume 20, Number 6 Nov 1996

NML (Now Imation Government Services Program

Note: The NML historical materials have a nasty habit of winking in and out of visibility on the Web. The info below is the latest I have, but if the past is any indication, the material has probably been moved or removed.

The National Media Lab (NML), is "an industry resource supporting the U.S. Government in the evaluation, development, and deployment of advanced storage media and systems. NML endeavors to provide a broad perspective of current progress in information technology issues, both from a commercial and a government perspective."

"Imation is continuing the work of the National Media Lab (NML) through the Imation Government Services Program."

NML Archived Documents

Imation Supports NASA on Space Shuttle Columbia Data Recovery April 2003
Koichi Sadashige
Data Storage Technology Assessment - 2002 Projections through 2010 March 2003
Roger J. Anderson
High Speed Tape Mechanics December 1996
Dr. John W. C. Van Bogart; John Merz, eds.
St. Thomas Electronic Records Disaster Recovery Effort November 1995
Dr. John W. C. Van Bogart
Magnetic Tape Storage and Handling — A Guide for Libraries & Archives The Commision on Preservation and Access June 1995
Martin Vos; Gary Ashton; John Van Bogart; Ron Ensminger, eds.
Heat & Moisture Diffusion in Magnetic Tape Packs March 1994. Originally published in IEEE Transactions on Magnetics, Vol. 30, No. 2, March 1994. IEEE Log Number 9214603
Devora Molitor
Cleaning Methods for Helical Scan Recorders

John W.C. Van Bogart & Leon D. Wald
NML Storage Technology Assessment Final Report. See especially: Archival Stability of Digital Storage Media

John W.C. Van Bogart
Recovery of Damaged Magnetic Tape and Optical Disc Media. Presented at "Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Recovery of Audio, Film, and Video Materials" A Library of Congress Symposium, September 21, 1995

Koichi Sadashige
Data Storage Technology Assessment 2000
Part 1. Current State and Near-Term Projections for Hardware Technology. Part 1
Part 2. Storage Media Environmental Durability and Stability
Recovery of Damaged Magnetic Tape and Optical Disk Media
Presented at "Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Recovery of Audio, Film, and Video Materials", Library of Congress, September 21, 1995

Robert D. Lorentz
NML Thin Film Media Final Report

SIGCAT Foundation and Doculabs, Inc.
CD Recording: A Troubleshooting Handbook

Doculabs, Inc.
Compatibility of CD-R Media, Reader and Writers

Recommended Storage Conditions for Magnetic Tape. 1997.
Information on Storage Media Longevities: Disposition Charts (life Expectancy of Various Information Storage Media (magnetic tape, optical disk, paper, microfilm) for storage at various Temperature and RH levels)
Questions & Answers
  • How long do digital data storage media last?
  • I have several tapes ranging in age from 2 - 8 years which are unreadable halfway through the tape due to sticky shed. I would like to get more information regarding the tape baking process for the recovery of degraded tapes. Do you have any suggested sources?
  • I have a collection of audio masters recorded in the 1970's. They have developed the "sticky shed" syndrome. If I store these tapes in a sealed container over a desiccant, will this cure the problem?
  • What are the life expectancies of 3.5" and 5-1/4" floppy disks? What are the optimum storage conditions for floppy disks? (We know that floppy disks are not recommended for archival storage, but they are commonly used to store data from PC's.)
  • What is the sensitivity of magnetic media to temperature extremes? For example, at what temperature is magnetic tape likely to be damaged by fire?
Resources for Transfer and Restoration of Video and Audio Tape
Metal Particle Tape and AMPEX DST (tm) Media Guide
Optical Tape Technology Final Report

Other NML documents

Some NML documents no longer be available from NML, but are available at other sites:

Overview of Archival Stability of Recording Media

Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)
Magnetic Tape Storage and Handling: A Guide for Libraries and Archives, June 1995.
What Can Go Wrong with Magnetic Media?
Preventing Information Loss: Multiple Tape Copies
Life Expectancy: How Long Will Magnetic Media Last?
How Can You Prevent Magnetic Tape from Degrading Prematurely?
Ampex Guide to the Care and Handling of Magnetic Tape
Estimation of Magnetic Tape Life Expectancies (LEs)
Further Reading

Holographic storage

Colossal Storage Corp.
3D Volume Holographic Optical Data Storage NanoTechnology

John H. Hong & Demetri Psaltis
Dense holographic storage promises fast access, Adapted from Laser Focus World, April 1996 p. 119.

IBM Almaden Research Center
Holographic Storage DEMONstrator

Lucent Technologies
Lucent, Imation Developing Bell Labs Holographic Storage Technology

Rene Millman
Storage enters the third dimension

Margaret Quan
Holographic storage nears debut, EE Times, April 26, 2001

Tom Thompson
Creating Holographic Storage. Sidebar to When Silicon Hits Its Limits, What's Next?, Byte, 1996.

Caltech Optical Information Processing Group Holographic Data Storage

Hesselink's Research Group (Stanford)

Responses to "Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Documents"

In the January 1995 issue of Scientific American, an article by Jeff Rothenberg appeared, with the headline "The digital medium is replacing paper in a dramatic record-keeping revolution. But such documents may be lost unless we act now". The following responses were sent as letters to the editor of Scientific American and are reproduced here with the permission of the authors.


Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC)
The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) was formed by the Joint Committee on Inter-Society Coordination (JCIC) to establish voluntary technical standards for advanced television systems, including digital high definition television (HDTV). ATSC suggests positions to the Department of State for their use in international standards organizations. ATSC proposes standards to the Federal Communications Commission.

International Federation of Television Archives (FIAT/IFTA)
The International Federation of Television Archives (FIAT/IFTA) is a non-profit association of Television Archives, set up on June 13th, 1977 in Rome by the BBC, RAI, ARD, and INA.


Frequently Asked Questions


See also Video Preservation

John W.C. Van Bogart
Magnetic Tape Storage Glossary

The CD-Info Company
Compact Disc Terminology

Steve Cunningham and Judson Rosebush
CD-ROM Glossary

Octave Systems, Inc.
The CD Recordable Glossary

CD-Rom Glossary
DVD Glossary

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