Guidance for Donors, Dealers, and Archival Repositories

3.4 Hidden content: password protection, firewalls, disk images

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In some cases, especially if digital files come to a repository through an estate, materials may be hidden behind an unknown login or password. Digital files can provide the unique opportunity to recover or discover content previously hidden or thought lost. In many cases repositories may be able to recover deleted files or automatically saved materials (such as “Auto Save” word processor drafts). Content may also reside behind subscriber-only paywalls or in a private intranet (especially for organizational records). Any acquisition agreement should designate whether a donor allows repository staff to decrypt passwords and/or logins, or to recover deleted files, and whether the donor or dealer grants ownership of files recovered by these methods. In some cases decryption and file recovery may be the only way to gain access to digital content. All parties should be aware that repositories may discover materials not intended to be included in a collection (as indeed has long happened with paper archives), such as files created by a user other than the donor or items that fall outside of the scope of the acquisition.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 1 At the most comprehensive level, a repository may wish to create a disk image (a file or files that contain an exact copy of the contents and structure) of a hard drive or other piece of storage media. The potential benefits of capturing a whole system disk include future interactive access, which could increase the value of the materials. Agreements should specify whether disk images are intended or allowed to be included in a collection of digital files, and, if so, whether the disk image might need to be amended to address privacy concerns. Further, donors may wish to transfer disk images to a repository with the understanding that although individual files may be carved out from them and made public, the disk images themselves will serve as a master copy, or original copy that remains untouched, that is restricted to staff use for preservation purposes.

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Source: http://mcpress.media-commons.org/borndigital/privacy-and-intellectual-property/hidden-content-password-protection-firewalls-disk-images/