File Types & the Future

As indicated in yesterday’s post, Paper Outlasts Digital, my paper documents are outlasting my digital files. Before continuing my scanning project, I wanted to see if I should switch how I’m storing my scanned images.

After a quick Google search for ‘file formats that last’, I found some advice from what I would consider to be ‘experts’

First, I found a post by the National Archives and Records Administration regarding Digital File Types. From this article, I learned that NARA’s Photographic Imaging, Microfilm and Textual Preservation Lab uses the TIFF format for master preservation and reproduction. Thankfully, that is the format I’m using to scan the majority of my paper. When it comes to sharing files, the JPG format is also used.

However, I may have to re-think how I’m scanning multi-page documents. I’ve been using the PDF format. According to the article, the Photographic Imaging, Microfilm and Textual Preservation Lab are using the PDF format for distribution purposes only. Thus, my practice of using PDF to store what I would call ‘master’ files may need to be changed.

Secondly from the PC World article, “How to Archive Files so They’ll Stay around for Years”  by Lincoln Spector, comes the advice

“And just to be safe, if it’s possible, save the same files in more than one format. Save and store documents in .docx, .doc, .pdf, and .html. For photos, go with .jpg and .png. For music, .mp3 and .wav.”