Preserving the Data Explosion: Using PDF

Posted by admin on May 2, 2008

The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), a UK-based not-for-profit organisation with the National Archives and the British Library among the membership, issued a report in which it called for PDF/A to be employed by organisations wanting to “be sure that their documents will be preserved for the long term”.

In the DPC’s Preserving the Data Explosion: Using PDF report, author Betsy Fanning wrote that “the development of PDF/A for long-term preservation of electronic documents is a logical use of the file format”. “When PDF/A is combined with a comprehensive records management program and formally established records policies and procedures, an organisation can be sure that their electronic documents will be preserved,” she added.

However, Fanning warned: “While PDF/A may be a suitable file format today for long-term preservation of electronic documents, it should be noted that there may be other file formats introduced in the future that may better serve the needs of an organisation. Therefore, organisations should be continually reviewing the available file formats to ensure they have selected the best format for their purposes.”

“This report highlights the challenges we all face in a digital age,” said Adrian Brown, head of digital preservation at the National Archives. “Using PDF/A as a standard will help information officers ensure that key business data survives. But it should never be viewed as the Holy Grail. It is merely a tool in the armoury of a well-thought-out records-management policy.”

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