Bit Rot & Long Term Access

Bit Rot & Long Term Access

Over the last weeks at several events Paul Wheatley of the British Library showed examples of bit rot in an image collection of the BL.

Planets did lots of R&D into preservation and long term access and provided background and breakthrough thinking on many of the technical challenges.

But Paul’s tenacity on this subject bit rot triggered me to open a Problem, Requirement, Use Case sequence in the “what we need” section of the OPF wiki.

We need to make serious efforts to drill down into every individual potential element and risk for Bit Rot. Create Use Cases and take action on these Use Cases and develop practical tools and/or workflow to assure we can prevent Bit Rot. I am sure that many of the implications of the Use Cases are not necessarily big development projects and often more a case of creating scripts that can compare “checksums” or “open and save as new” type of activities inside a repository. Todays hardware is subject to a very short technical life cycle and by far not as reliable for keeping the integrity of the bits as we sometimes like to believe.

Understanding the challenge and a continuous discussion amongst experts who know how to mitigate the risks is crucial. Do look at this wiki entry as starting point to share thinking and resolution of Bit Rot problems



Vint Cerf’s view on Bit Rot


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