Preserving Video

Prioritizing for Preservation

Because of the significant resources that preservation requires, it is prudent to prioritize some videos over others for long-term retention and access. Note that your priorities for long-term preservation might differ from your priorities for immediate or medium-term use.

For example, sharing an Al Jazeera newscast on your website might be a good idea now, but you may not want to preserve it in the long run because it belongs to Al Jazeera and it is being preserved elsewhere, probably in a higher quality and with more documentation. Your resources would be better spent preserving an original evidentiary video in your collection that no one else has.

Here are some general prioritization criteria to maximize your preservation resources:

Archival Value?

Is the video significant and useful as evidence or information?


Is this video a copy? Is the original or a higher quality copy being preserved elsewhere? Note that sometimes a lower quality copy is the only one that exists, and is worth keeping.

Has Context?

Does the video have enough context to be understandable as evidence or information?


Does the video belong to someone else, and are your rights to reuse it limited?

An example of how criteria could be used to prioritize different videos for preservation.
An example of how criteria could be used to prioritize different videos for preservation.
  • Digital preservation is never-ending and requires an ongoing commitment of resources.
  • Preserving videos requires regular refreshing on new storage media and migration to new usable formats.
  • Prioritize videos for preservation based on their archival value, uniqueness, contextualizing information, and whether you have rights to use them.
  • Most small organizations cannot do preservation on their own. Consider partnering with an archival institution.
Key Concept: Refreshing

Over time, video files need to be regularly moved to new storage media.
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Key Concept: Repository

A repository is the locus of long-term digital preservation.
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Key Concept: Obsolescence

Over time, file formats and storage media become unusable because the technology they rely on is unavailable.
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Key Concept: Migration

Over time, video files need to be transcoded to new formats to remain usable.
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Key Concept: Fixity

The long-term integrity of your original files is a fundamental goal of preservation.
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The Archiving Workflow

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