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  Preservation Procedure Policy: Keep track of developments of file formats
Related Guidance Policy
Digital object
Definition/ Description Functional preservation of digital objects is about securing as much knowledge as needed about the digital material to be able to preserve and access the material in the long term. Which file formats and versions of file formats that are preserved in the repository could be important metadata for preserving the collection in the long term as this is important knowledge when decisions about e.g. migration are to be made.It is important that the organisation develops a strategy for maintaining information about the file formats and different versions in the metadata that belongs to the digital object and at the same time decides on how the organisation will continuously watch the development of formats (Preservation Watch) .  If the organisation does not wish to maintain an inhouse format registry the organisation could consider keeping track of file format versioning by use of a central format registry.
Why Keeping track of file format versions is necessary to be able to choose and perform the proper functional preservation actions.
Risks Not keeping track of file format versions and monitoring formats in general may put the collection at risk as it will be difficult to know how, when and what needs preservation care.
Life cycle stage Preservation Planning, Community Watch and Participation
Stakeholder Depositor:  needs to be confident that the digital material is properly preserved and accessible for the long term
Consumer: depends on the authenticity of the digital material and will have an interest in continued accessibility of the digital material
Information Manager: has to decide on policies for functional preservation
Technology Manager/System Architect: have to provide technology solutions for functional preservation
Cross Reference Authenticity, Metadata*,* Functional Preservation
Examples National Archives of Australia: “The Archives uses preservation formats selected through a rigorous research and testing regime.” Source:,
Control Policy File format identification and monitoring can be done through a variety of checks such as:
  • File format MUST be an ISO-Standard
  • Information about file format version SHOULD be recorded in the metadata
  • File format for collection x MUST be <value>
Questions to foster discussions
  • Has your organisation developed a strategy/policy  for maintaining information about file format versions?

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