For example, I dumped some stuff I had created in an old Hardvard Graphics 15 years ago, the program that worked under MSDOS, if I would have kept it I would had some trouble with finding something that would open those files given the fact I lost the original application.

Will digital preservation take into account also rare type formats and the fact that programs that would open this files although rare cannot be shared due to license restrictions and also are no longer supported by their manufacturers?

Is there a third option to this limitations?

Proposal: Digital Preservation

3 Answers 3


I imagine that yes, the site would field this sort of question, i.e. file format migration paths, emulation strategies or other rendering approaches for rare file formats.

While its risk factor to digital preservation as a whole is debated, file format obsolescence is a recognized risk for digital materials. I think your situation would be an excellent example of the problem as it's usually encountered.


Yes, obscure formats are an important issue in digital preservation. For example, the recent "Just Solve the Problem" project (justsolve.archiveteam.org) was an attempt to get as broad a collection of information as possible on formats, and the wiki has several references to Harvard Graphics, though not really a huge amount of information.


The challenge of dealing with obscure file formats is an issue in digital preservation. Often simple identification of what format a file is can be difficult.

Resources that help deal with the challenge are file format registries like PRONOM http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/PRONOM/Default.aspx and file format identification tools like DROID http://sourceforge.net/projects/droid/ which reference PRONOM.

Reference resources like the Sustainability of Digital Formats http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/formats/index.shtml resource maintained by the Library of Congress is useful for identifying challenges associated with preserving various file formats.

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