Digital archiving is becoming a growing practice for data storage in universities and libraries across the country. While promising, there are still several potential problems with digital archiving that could interfere with efforts to store information and streamline the storage process. Here are a few problems that archivists have encountered that make digital archiving more problematic than many have anticipated.
- No clear system
Since digital archiving is a relatively new practice, there has not yet been an established system for it; instead, each library, school, and academic institution has a different method for digital storage. The lack of clear protocol or direction could create problems, as digital information stored in one manner might not be readily available for an individual at a different institution that uses a different storage method. This problem is being witnessed at various libraries, each of which uses a different method–or avoids digital storage altogether until enough funds are raised to devise an archiving system.
- Mixed storage media
Another recurring issue with digital archiving is the wide range of storage media being submitted. While some information is stored on CDs, other information is being submitted in the form of DVDs, flash drives, floppy disks, or even computer hard drives themselves. This makes it incredibly difficult to integrate all of the information on one storage system, especially because newer computers might not be able to read the older floppy disks. Additionally, older computers might not have internet access or the same word processing programs, limiting the ability to translate the archives into another format.
- Physical decay
Physical storage media, such as floppy disks, CDs, and DVDs, actually decays at a much faster rate than paper archives. This could create problems in later years if libraries and universities keep their digital records on these forms of storage. Given the current problems with integrating all of the different types of information storage, many educational institutions are, in fact, keeping the physical storage for the time being.
Although these problems might remain in existence for some time, progress is being made towards developing a clearer methodology for digital storage.