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University of Minnesota

Kathryn A. Martin Library

Research Data Management (RDM)

  •  How will the data be archived for preservation and long-term access?
  •  How long should it be retained?
  •  What file formats? Are they long-lived?
  •  Are there data archives that my data is appropriate for ?
  •  Who will maintain my data for the long-term?

What are the best data formats for preservation?

Not all data formats are suitable for long term storage and future usage.  Format and software versions change, become obsolete, or require proprietary software to be use.

 Here is a list of Common File Formats and the preferred file formats for preservation and access.

Type Popular Proprietary Format Preferred Access Format

Text

MS Word (.doc)

PDF, TXT, HTML

Images

Photoshop (.psd)

TIFF

Video

Quicktime 

MPEG4

Database

MS Access

CSV

Tabular Data (Spreadsheet)

MS PowerPoint

PDF

Sound/Music

WMV, MP4, AAC

WAV

Data formats for preservation and UDC

These formats are based on platforms that are low-cost or free and have a stability.  A repository will be able to support these format and guarantee long term preservation. In some cases, your data might require emulation or a proprietary software to view and examine . In these cases, A data repository has different levels of support governed by a preservation and access policy.  For example, the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy offers the following levels of support: Full Support (Level 1)

  • Will take all reasonable actions to maintain usability.
  • Actions may include migration, emulation, or normalization.
  • Will ensure access and data fixity.

Limited Support (Level 2)

  • Will take limited steps to maintain usability.
  • May actively transform a file from one format to another to mitigate format obsolescence.
  • Will ensure access and data fixity.

Minimal Support (Level 3) 

  • Will provide for access to the item in its submission file format only.
  • Will work to ensure data fixitty