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Archiving Web Sites - Storage Media

Q. What storage media should I use to archive web sites?

In reviewing your options for storing your collection, consider these six criteria when selecting your storage media:

  1. Longevity - your chosen media should have a proven life span of at least ten years
  2. Capacity - make sure that your media can adequately store your the content you have now and the content you plan to collect in the future
  3. Viability - the media you choose should support error detection and data recovery 
  4. Obsolescence - choose technology that is well established and widely available
  5. Cost - consider both the cost for purchasing the media and the cost for maintaining it over time
  6. Susceptibility - the media you choose should show a low susceptibility to data loss and physical damage 

* From: Brown, Adrian.  "Selecting storage media for long-term preservation."  Note 2 in Digital Preservation Guidance.  National Archives, August 2008.


Take action

  • Review storage available to you
  • Review current storage options
  • Choose storage
  • Implement storage
  • Monitor storage


Review use cases

  • Library of Congress. Designing Storage Architectures for Digital Preservation. [link]

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  • The Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  "The Digital Dilemma: Strategic Issues in Archiving and Accessing Digital Motion Picture Materials."  November 2007.

    Requires registration to see the entire PDF report.  Examines ways in which key players in the movie business and other major industries currently store and access important digital data.  The goal was to better understand what problems these industries face today and what, if anything, is being done to avoid full-fledged data access disasters down the road.



  • Brown, Adrian.  "Selecting storage media for long-term preservation."  Note 2 in Digital Preservation Guidance.  National Archives, August 2008.

    This document is one of a series of guidance notes produced by The British National Archives, giving general advice on issues relating to the preservation and management of electronic records.  It is intended for use by anyone involved in the creation of electronic records that may need to be preserved over the long term, as well as by those responsible for preservation.

  • Baker, Mary, Kimberly Keeton, and Sean Martin.  "Why Traditional Storage Systems Don’t Help Us Save Stuff Forever."  Palo Alto, CA: HP Laboratories, 2005.

    Describes how storage environments differ and tries to acquaint the dependability community with some of the challenges in building archival storage systems.  Provides guidelines for an alternative storage architecture, much of which is being implemented at the British Library, and concludes with some suggestions for research topics to be tackled in this area.

  • Farmer, Jacob.  "Storage Design for High Capacity and Long Term Storage: Balancing Cost, Complexity and Fault Tolerance."   May 6, 2009.

    These PowerPoint slides identify the "pain points" for long term storage as well as the costs and include a detailed, technical overview of storage requirements.

  • Wright, Richard, Ant Miller, and Matthew Addis.  "The Significance of Storage in the 'Cost of Risk' of Digital Preservation."  International Journal of Digital Curation 4 no. 3 (2009): 104-22.

    Examines current modelling of costs and risks in digital preservation, concentrating on the Total Cost of Risk when using digital storage systems for preserving audiovisual material.  Reviews the vital role of storage and show how planning for long-term preservation of data should consider the risks involved in using digital storage technology.  Calls for new functionality to support recovery of files with errors, to eliminate the all-or-nothing approach of current IT systems, which in turn reduces the impact of failures of digital storage technology and mitigates against loss of digital data.


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