Minnesota  State Archives

Center for Archival Resources On Legislatures (CAROL)

Preservation Models


When starting to look at preservation solutions, it is important to understand that there are various levels of preservation activities. Once differences between the levels are understood, explore the various models others have used for preservation.


Preservation System "Levels"

There are different levels of available preservation systems; these levels are based on the system's functions or capabilities: Basic Storage, Passive Preservation, and Active Preservation.

Basic Storage

Digital files reside in some storage system (online, near-line, or off-line). Multiple copies may be made. No fixity is created or checked - i.e., no bit-level preservation is performed.


Bit-Level / Passive Preservation

Same as above, but fixity is generated and monitored on a regular basis. The system monitors archive content for changes in the files themselves; content is still at risk from obsolescence.

  • Example: Merritt, a repository service from the University of California Curation Center (UC3) provides fixity checking at the bit level. 

Active Preservation

Mechanisms to plan for and take steps to mitigate against the risk of technology obsolescence of digital content. This includes the ability to characterize the content and to perform preservation actions such as migrating content to new file formats and/or providing emulation environments.

  • Example: Tessella’s Safety Deposit Box provides both bit-level and active preservation. 

Preservation Models

As you review your records and think about how to preserve them, consider these five models others have used as storage options that may or may not include preservation components.  The models range from doing nothing, utilizing an existing service, to creating your own system from the ground up.  It is important to investigate the details of all options before making a selection as the level of preservation varies with each. 

Preservation Option Models February 2012 (pdf)


Choosing a Preservation System

When determining what preservation model or system best suits your needs consider the following factors: documentation, access and ownership issues, user interface, depositing material, managing records within a repository, access to and retrieval of files, preservation, and costs.

Use the following questions and their respective answers to determine if the repository you are considering will meet your current and projected future needs. The factors determined most important will influence decisions.  

Preservation Factors to Consider February 2012 (pdf)


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February 14, 2012; links verified April 1, 2013.

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