National Archives of the Netherlands (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science)

Preserving digital objects

The term ‘information object’ is a collective noun to describe digital information regardless of its format. It is not the content that defines the object, but the form it takes: is it for example an email, a spreadsheet, a text document, a database, or a website?
Pursuant to Dutch law and regulations, records that are created and used in digital form must also be preserved in digital form. At the moment, most records are still created with the ultimate intention of printing them to paper. Insufficient consideration is therefore given to the digital lifespan of the record at the point of creation.
Different preservation approaches are suitable for different types of digital information objects: an email must be preserved differently from a database or a text document. The optimal preservation approach is also affected by the length of time for which an object must be preserved. An information object that must be preserved for an unspecified amount of time is likely to require different treatment than an object that must only be preserved for five years.
This section provides an introduction to how to best manage and preserve a number of different types of information objects. For more information please see the following series of publications in the Knowledge Base of this website:

  • From digital volatility to digital permanence
  • Dutch Testbed White Papers