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NDSA-INFRASTRUCTURE  March 2012, Week 1

NDSA-INFRASTRUCTURE March 2012, Week 1

Subject:

compression in preservation storage

From:

Priscilla Caplan <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

The NDSA infrastructure working group list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 6 Mar 2012 16:50:07 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (116 lines)

Time to start our next issue-oriented conversation, this time about data 
compression.


Data compression can decrease the cost of long-term preservation by 
reducing the amount of storage required.  There are at least three types 
of compression to consider:

--  file compression, using a file compression algorithm suited to the 
file type
--  hardware compression, which usually means compression done by a tape 
drive as the data is written to tape
--  disk compression, which is performed by many new storage appliances 
and uses a combination of compression and deduplication

If there are other kinds of compression, please add that into this 
discussion.

*For each of these types of compression:
*

1.  Are you currently using this type of compression in your own 
archival storage (in the OAIS sense of long-term preservation storage)?

2.  How do you feel about using this type of compression for archival 
storage?  Is this legitimate or something that Best Practice would 
discourage?

3.  What are the particular risks of this type of compression, if any, 
for preservation?

4.  Are there any advantages to using this type of compression beyond 
reducing storage costs?

5.  How do you trade off cost vs. risk?


I looked for best practices or other documents that addressed 
compression in the preservation context.  Below are some snippets of 
what I found, addressing mainly file and hardware compression. *
*

*
Case Western University Archives:*

Compression adds complexity to long-term preservation. Some compression 
techniques shed "redundant" information. As an example, JPEG removes 
information to reduce file size. The image might look fine on your 
current monitor, but as monitors improve, the lower quality of the image 
will be more obvious

*Wright, Miller and Addis*  in 
http://www.prestoprime.org/docs/training/Cost_of_risk_RW.pdf

Not encoding, in particular not using compression, typically results in 
files that have minimal sensitivity to corruption.  In this way, the 
choice not to use compression is a way to mitigate against loss.

*TNA on Image Compression* in 
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/image_compression.pdf

It is recommended that algorithms should only be used in the 
circumstances for which they are most efficient. It is also strongly 
recommended that archival master versions of images should only be 
created and stored using lossless algorithms. The Intellectual Property 
Rights status of a compression algorithm is primarily an issue for 
developers of format specifications, and software encoders/decoders. 
However, the use
of open, non-proprietary compression techniques is recommended for the 
purposes of sustainability.

*Howard Besser*, quoted in 
http://digitalpreservationstrategies.blogspot.com/

Data is often compressed or "scrambled" to assist in its storage and or 
protect it's intellectual content. These compression and encryption 
algorythms are often developed by private organisations who will one day 
cease to support them. If this happens you're stuck between a rock and a 
hard place. If you don't want to get into legal trouble you are no 
longer able to read your data; and if you go ahead and "do the 
unwrapping yourself" it's quite possible you're breaking copyright law.

*NINCH Guide to Good Practice* 
http://www.nyu.edu/its/humanities/ninchguide/XIV/

A similar obsolescence problem will have to be addressed with the file 
formats and compression techniques you choose. Do not rely on 
proprietary file formats and compression techniques, which may not be 
supported in the future as the companies which produce them merge, go 
out of business or move on to new products. In the cultural heritage 
community, thede factostandard formats are uncompressed TIFF for images 
and PDF, ACSII (SGML/XML markup) and RTF for text. Migration to future 
versions of these formats is likely to be well-supported, since they are 
so widely used. Digital objects for preservation should not be stored in 
compressed or encrypted formats.

*PRESTO Centre, Threats to Data Integrity from Large-Scale Management 
Environments* 
http://www.prestocentre.org/library/resources/threats-data-integrity-use-large-scale-management-environments

Compressed formats are in general much more sensitive to data corruption 
than uncompressed formats. Due to the 'amplification' effect that 
compression has on data corruption, the percentage saving in storage 
space is often much less than the percentage increase in the amount of 
information that is affected by data corruption.


Priscilla


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