Why are file formats important?
File formats govern one's ability to use and re-use data in the future.
Technology is constantly changing and as new formats emerge it is important that accessibility of data be as important a consideration as proactively planning for hardware and software obsolescence.
Formats more likely to be accessible in the future are non-proprietary, open, documented standard commonly usage by research community, standard representation (ASCII, Unicode), unencrypted and uncompressed.
Comprehensive overview of File Formats - Working Level: ANDS Guide
This following resources will assist researchers, their support staff, data centre and repository staff working with file formats for data storage, transmission and sharing:
- ‘File Formats for Long-Term Access' from the MIT Libraries' Data Management and Publishing guide
- The US Library of Congress ‘Sustainability of Digital Formats'
- Digital Curation Centre's Digital Curation Manual 'Instalment on File Formats'
- ‘Obsolescence: File Formats and Software' : an ICPSR Digital Preservation Management Tutorial
- The UK Data Archive's ‘Data Formats Table' optimal data formats that are used for long-term preservation of data
- A semantic registry for 'Digital Preservation'
- 'Digital continuity planning'- an approach to managing digital information by the National Archives of Australia
- The UK National Archives 'PRONOM format database'
- A comprehensive 'Research Data Curation' bibliography covering preservation, file fomats, data encoding etc.
File Formats - Working Level: ANDS Guide
Full list of ANDS Guides