Digital Preservation

Digital Preservation is the active management and maintenance of digital objects (the files, or groups of files, that contain information in digital form) so they can be accessed and used by future users. It involves planning, resource allocation, and application of preservation methods and technologies, and it combines policies, strategies and actions to ensure access to reformatted and born-digital content, regardless of the challenges of media failure and technological change. The goal of digital preservation is the accurate rendering of authenticated content over time to ensure its authenticity, accessibility and usability.

The UN Archives is striving to ensure that all UN digital archives are preserved in compliance with international standards and are available to Member States, researchers, and the general public, meeting UN's accountability promise as an open international organization.


What we are doing now

The digital preservation maturity model created by the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) is used by UN Archives to benchmark and measure its level of preserving the digital collections under its physical custody. The NDSA model evaluates and categorizes an organization's digital preservation status into 4 levels based on 6 different elements:  

  • Storage and Geographic Location
  • Data Integrity
  • Information Security
  • Metadata
  • File Formats
  • Physical Media

A set of open source tools have been tested and used in preserving digital collections; standard procedures have been established to ensure consistency in processing the digital collections; and digital preservation log sheets have been created to capture preservation metadata.

Benchmarking UN digital archives

Currently, there are around 50 born digital archive collections in UN Archives custody. Measuring against the NSDA model, their digital preservation maturity level has improved over the past 4 years. 

  • In 2014, we were at pre-level 1
  • In 2016, we were at level 1
  • In 2018, we are at level 2 
  • In 2018, we are moving to level 3 
  • In 2020 and beyond, we hope to get to level 4


SOP & Toolkit

Major steps in UN Archives digital preservation procedure includes: 

  • Virus and spyware check
  • Making 1 master AIP (tool used: TeraCopy, HashDeep)
  • Making 2 validated identical copies of the master AIP (tool used: Disk Clone, HashDeep)
  • Accession the 3 AIP copies into 2 different geographical locations (tool used: HPE Content Manager)
  • Recording required digital preservation metadata (tool used: HPE Content Manager, Digital Collection Preservation Log)
  • Periodically validate the 3 AIP copies. (tool used: HashDeep, Digital Collection Preservation Log)

The SOP and toolkit will be published on this page soon. Please check back later.