The need for Digital Preservation

The challenge of digital content

There is an ever increasing volume of information being created in digital format by all of us whether in the personal or professional sphere. This is both as part of the day to day business of our institution but also as a result of digitising non-digital collections such as publications, images or audio content.

The digital world provides us with quick, easy and ubiquitous access to information wherever we are. At the same time this digital content is at very real risk of loss in a short space of time, and preserving information for meaningful reuse by future generations is a real challenge. Ensuring reliable access to digital content over time can be difficult due to hardware failure or changes in technology rendering digital content obsolete.

The average life of a website is only 44-100 days

(Library of Congress)

50% of websites archived by the British Library are lost from the live web after just one year

(The British Library)

By 2019, 80% of the world's internet traffic will be video

(Tubular insights)

In 2011 Google estimated there were 30 exabytes of human-made information in the world. 2015 300000

(The Guardian)

The lifetime of some CDs is only 10-20 years. CDM


Number of types of PDF available; 8 No. of these considered 'archival', for long-term preservation 1

(PDF Association)

Throughout history, trends in storage media development have meant each new technology is 1000 times smaller, can store 1000s of times more information, but has only 1/10th of the expected lifetime of the previous generation: Source

Medium Storage density, bits/cm² Life, years
Stone 10 10,000
Paper 104 (10000) 1,000
Film 107 (10000000) 100
Disc 1010 (10000000000) 10

Estimated Lifespan of Storage Media: Source

Lifespan of storage media