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

Technology preservation

At the beginning of the digital era, a good solution seemed to be preservation of the computers with their original programming, alongside retention of the accompanying documentation.

Some large companies do use this costly and convoluted solution. A significant disadvantage is the inevitable withdrawal of support for the software and hardware. The components needed to keeep the hardware operational become more and more scarse as manufacturers no longer stock obsolete components. The number of files that can read old files is constantly decreasing for the simple reason that computers will not continue to function indefinitely. Furthermore, the knowledge and skills necessary to use the hardware and software become scarse and eventually disappear.

In short, high costs and ongoing technological challenges mean that technology preservation is an impractical approach to the preservation of digital objects.