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Analysing the Impact of File Formats on Data Integrity

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The concept of file format is fundamental for storage of digital information. Without any formatting rules, bit sequences would be meaningless to any machine. Due to various reasons there exists an overwhelming mass of file formats in the digital world, even though only a minority has a broader relevance. Particularly in regard of specific domains like long-term preservation of digital objects, the choice of the appropriate format can be a problematic case. Thus, one of the basic questions an archivist needs to get an answer for is: Which file format is most suitable for ensuring the longevity of its information?

In this study a particular criteria for long-term preservation suitability is picked up: the robustness of files according to their bit error resilience. The question we address is: Up to what extent does a file format, as a set of formatting rules, contribute to the long-term maintainability of the information content of digital objects? Or in other words: Are there any file format basing factors promoting the consistency of digital information?
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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