U.S. National Archives issues guidance for storage of digital files


In 2014, there are now decades of digital government history, an unknown amount of which has already been lost to bit rot and backup failures. Today, the United States National Archives has issued new guidance for federal agencies for transferring permanent electronic records.

In NARA Bulletin 2014-04, the Archives identifies the “preferred” and “acceptable” file formats for the U.S. government to use in transferring data and information into the nation’s digital memory.

In a new transfer guidance page, the Archives breaks down the preferred formats by content type, from computer-aided design files to digital audio, video and images.

The guidance on structured data formats should be a useful reference for all levels of government in the United States, as they prepare to contribute their digital archives to posterity. NARA states a preference for Comma Separated Value (CSV), OpenDocument Format Spreadsheet (ODS), ASCII Text, JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) and Extensible Markup Language (XML) files over proprietary formats.

[Image Credit: Michael Connors, MorgueFile, NSF.gov]

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