One of the sessions at the BYU FH Conference this year was by Gary Wright, Senior Product Manager for Records Preservation at FamilySearch. This was a very interesting session. Gary has just published a White Paper entitled “Preserving Your Family History Records Digitally.” Available at https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/White_Paper:_Preserving_Your_Family_History_Records_Digitally – or more easily go to wiki.familysearch.org and search for Gary Wright
Key Question: What are we doing to preserve our records?
Why go digital ?
- age and physical shape of records – no worry about records being too fragile to handle – or being destroyed
- color and contrast don’t fade with time – old prints fade
- copies are as good as the original
- records are easier to organize, use, and share
- more and more records are being created digitally – pictures, words – so already have to deal with digital
Paper vs digital
- both have challenges in preservation
- – but we should consider the need for secure storage
- – and multiple copies capable of being shared
It is easier to archive both paper and digital poorly
There are simple things you can do to make your records more secure
What do you need?
- computer and software
- way to digitize
- way to preserve
What can be digitized?
- Documents and journals
- Written and audio histories
- Newspapers clippings
- Family videos
- Music and artwork
What is digital preservation?
- Not merely backing up data
- It is storing digital information with descriptive information
- In perpetuity
- In multiple locations
- Best quality you can afford
- Migrating data to new media and formats to avoid obsolescence
(pd aside – Do you remember when? . . .
- Floppy disks cost $10 each
- Apple ProFile hard drive $3000 for 5MB
- Corvus Hard drive $9000 for 45MB
- 16 GB Flashdrive for $25
- 1 Terabyte HD for $100)
Storage is cheap
But are hard drives and flash drives the best places to preserve your records?
Hard drives have a 2 to 5 year life about the same as ordinary grade CDs and DVDs
No one knows how long flash drives will last
All of these things can be part of the preservation plan
Why use optical discs? -Longevity
- Archive grade optical disks
- disks with a gold reflective layer and anti UV protection
- e.g. MAM-A disks – about $1 per CD or $2 per DVD – http://www.mam-a.com/
- CDs last over 300 years
- DVDs last over 110 years
- Can use your regular CD or DVD writer
- Use a high power laser to etch the data on a disk
- 1000 year archival life
- Need special writer to create the disk
- Can be read on any DVD player
- http://www.millenniata.com/.com sell the M-Disk
- About $400 for the machine to create the disks – About $11 per disk
Quick list for Archiving:
- Use gold CD-R or DVD-R media (or M-Disk) for the best longevity
- Never touch the recording side
- Do not use adhesive labels
- Store vertically in a protective case
- Protective cases should be rigid and contact the disc at the center hub only
- Store in room temperature at moderate humidity (below 50%)
- For labeling, use a water based permanent, felt tipped marker for writing on the top (write area) of the disc, or mark in clear center hub with any marker or ideally, write only on protective case
- Do not subject CDs to rapid changes in temperature or humidity
- Protect from light
- Never flex a recordable disc
- Store 1 copy offsite if possible.
What file formats should we use?
File formats seem to change frequently
- Who has Wordstar files ?
- TIFF – high resolution but takes lots of storage space
- JPEG – compresses data but lowers resolution – quality over time?
Possible Solutions :
- PDF/A – not for audio or video – files become larger
- e.g. Soft Xpansion Perfect PDF Master – free
- JPEG2000 – for images – may result in lossless storage
- e.g. XnView – free program
- FastStone Image Viewer – free
- Camera – use highest dots per inch you can
- Digital audio – use .wav
- Video – .mov or .avi
How to get started
- Scanner – 3 in 1 printer Ok – at least 300 dpi
- Digital camera – natural flat light – tripod if possible
- Audio digitizer – USB device
- DVD writer
The more “easy to use” tools we have the harder it seems to become