Computer help forum: How do you future proof your digitally archived documents?

by: Lee Koo (ADMIN) April 24, 2009 1:43 PM PDT

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How do you future proof your digitally archived documents?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) ModeratorCNET staff - 4/24/09 1:43 PM

Question:

Hello, over the years I have accumulated a lot of data in
various forms. I have written documents, my own and those
sent to me by others; I have photos in many different file
formats; I have videos in several formats and I have
converted tapes to digital; finally, I have a large
collection of audio recordings. You might also say that I
have a large software collection--it begins with DOS 1.0 for
the OS family and MS Word 1.0 for the word processing family.
My question relates to archiving all of this material. What
format(s) should I use for each to future proof my
collection? I may need to access documents 10 or 15 years
from now and who knows if the future word processors will be
able to open today's .doc files. Will PDF always be
universal? Photos, video, and audio all have efficient
compressed formats, but which ones will survive 50 years from
now? What do we need to do today so that future generations
are not left with a useless alphabet soup of file formats?

--Submitted by C. Philip C., M.D., J.D.

Here are some featured member answers to get you started, but
please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question.

Stick to standards --Submitted by rbsjrx
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-6122_102-0.html?messageID=3031912#3031912

The Future of your Data --Submitted by waytron
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-6122_102-0.html?messageID=3032162#3032162

Several Solutions --Submitted by Flatworm
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-6122_102-0.html?messageID=3032158#3032158

File formats.. Here today gone tomorrow. --Submitted by hawk318
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-6122_102-0.html?messageID=3032212#3032212

Damn Good Question --Submitted by Artist3d
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-6122_102-0.html?messageID=3032505#3032505

Simple Solution --Submitted by friarchuck
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-6122_102-0.html?messageID=3033280#3033280

Future proof? Men plan, God laughs... --Submitted by Watzman
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-6122_102-0.html?messageID=3033493#3033493

Hard to be certain, but some formats safer than others. --Submitted by BigGuns149
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-6122_102-0.html?messageID=3033629#3033629

If you have any additional recommendation or advice for Philip, please click on the reply link and post away. Please be as detailed as possible in your answer to him. Thanks!

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