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Arkib Negara ELECTRONIC RECORDS MANAGEMENT and archive mgmt guideline_eng

e-SPARK suppression

e-SPARK suppression technology is rapidly developing, and advice should be sought at the time the system is required to ensure the best method is employed. Maintenance The information held on magnetic media can only be processed or read by mechanical means, therefore it is essential that equipment is maintained in good condition: the use of poorly maintained equipment can actually cause damage to records. The heads, disk drive and tape drive elements of playback and recording equipment should be cleaned regularly according to manufacturers' recommendations. Some tape manufacturers also recommend the exercising of tapes to improve their life span. Problems, such as creases or folds in the tape, may build up as the tape pack sits in storage. Exercising can reduce the stresses that cause these problems and may also reduce the danger of print-through. Exercising involves winding the tape slowly through its entire length at playback speed, without stopping. The process should be carried out in the same environmental conditions in which the tapes are to be stored. Tapes which are to be moved to a different environment for exercising should be allowed a period of 24 hours to acclimatize to the new environment before exercising them. It is generally recommended that exercising be carried out at least every three years. Reformatting and data migration To minimize deterioration due to handling and use, copies of important and frequently used tapes should be made for reference purposes. Ideally, a preservation master copy, a duplicating copy and a reference copy should be produced, and clearly labeled as such. As a disaster preparedness measure, the preservation master copy should be stored in a different location to the others. The duplicating copy may be used to produce further reference copies when required. Long-term preservation of magnetic media is affected by two major factors: the intrinsic instability of the media; and the likelihood of the hardware required to read the media becoming unavailable. Even if tapes or disks made today are in excellent condition in 30 years time, the machines required to play them will almost certainly have been superseded long before, and for all practical purposes the records will be unusable. Beta format videotapes are a good example of this problem. Once very common, they have now been entirely superseded by VHS format tapes and it will soon be very difficult to view a Beta video. The main prospect for long-term retention of the information held on magnetic media seems to be in regular copying or data migration, thus maintaining a good quality signal Copyright Arkib Negara Malaysia Page 85 of 86

e-SPARK that can be read using available equipment. Copying can either be to fresh tape or disk, or to some other machine-readable format such as CD-ROM. Copying to analog tape will involve some loss of signal quality at every copying stage. This may be significant after as few as two or three copies. The problem may be overcome by copying to a digital format such as digital tape (DAT for audio tapes) or optical disk. The tape used for digital recording is no more permanent than the tape used for analog recordings but the information can be copied many times without a significant loss of quality. The problem does not arise with computer tapes as they are already recorded digitally. Digital recording hardware is expensive. To minimize costs you can record initially on analog tape and then transfer to a digital medium for archiving. You should consider whether the information will need to remain on magnetic media permanently, or whether a paper or microfilm format would be a better way of retaining the information. Paperbased records and microfilm will always last longer than magnetic records stored in the same conditions. Copyright Arkib Negara Malaysia Page 86 of 86

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