Guidance for Donors, Dealers, and Archival Repositories

5.1 Physical condition

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In order for staff to capture and preserve their contents, digital media need to be reasonably clean and physically intact. Providing donors and dealers with storing and packing recommendations can help protect digital media from harm prior to or during transit. In some cases computer media will have long ago sustained damage. Examples of damage to computers, disks, and tapes include a bent computer chassis or disk drive, a cracked cartridge case, an exposed internal magnetic disk, a scratched optical disk, and a floppy disk that is covered in dust. Pre-transfer documentation about physical condition, as well as information about who has handled the media and where they have been stored, may help pinpoint when damage occurred. Dated digital photographs of computer equipment and media may be very helpful in this context. Donors and dealers are advised not to attempt any restoration or repair without first consulting an archival repository.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 1 Physical damage to digital media may prevent access to important content and compromise the item’s value as a material artifact. In addition, inserting bent, dirty, or broken media into a functional disk drive in an attempt to access the contents could irreparably harm a repository’s processing workstation. In situations where the physical condition of digital media upon arrival at the repository differs considerably from expectations, repository staff will need to decide whether to accept the materials or revisit the repository’s agreement with the donor or dealer. Physical damage to media may also change the level of preservation and access a repository can provide. Yet donors, dealers, and repositories should not assume just because digital media may be decades old and battered looking that nothing of value can be recovered from them.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Furthermore, repository staff should pay close attention to the physical labels on digital media. Although physical labels are not always accurate, sometimes they are richly detailed and useful, and therefore may help staff verify inventory and conduct an assessment of the media at the repository. Sometimes information on a label may be additional to any digital content of the media item (e.g., the name of the original owner of the disk).

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Source: http://mcpress.media-commons.org/borndigital/post-acquisition-review-by-the-repository/physical-condition/