Digital preservation means preserving digital information in an understandable and usable form for Digital preservation refers to the reliable preservation of digital information for several decades or even centuries. Hardware, software, and file formats will become outdated, but the information must remain understandable. Reliable digital preservation requires active monitoring of information integrity and anticipation of various risks. Metadata, which describes for example the resource itself, its provenance and rights related to it, has a key role in preservation.
In Finland, the digital preservation of cultural heritage and research data is conducted nationally in a centralised manner. National digital preservation services for cultural heritage and research data are provided and owned by the Ministry of Education and Culture, and their implementation is the responsibility of CSC – IT Center for Science. For more information about the DP service, visit digitalpreservation.fi.
In the DP service, preservation is divided into three different levels. (1) Bit-level preservation is a process used to ensure that the original bit-streams of the data are preserved in an unchanged state and can be processed by modern devices. The process includes active integrity checking and replication management. This level of preservation is primarily the responsibility of the DP service. (2) Logical preservation is a process used to ensure that the files comprising the data are preserved in a technically processable and readable manner, regardless of any changes in technology. The process includes careful preservation planning, carrying out the necessary file format migrations, and ensuring that enough technical metadata is retained. This level of preservation is the responsibility of both the DP service and the partner organisation. (3) Semantic preservation is a process used to preserve the intelligibility of materials. The process includes taking care of that enough descriptive metadata is included and the materials’ original context is preserved. This level of preservation is primarily the responsibility of the partner organisation.