As part of the digital preservation work (documented elsewhere) that I’m doing on my document collection, I’ve just completed an exercise to organise and index all the associated physical disks. It turns out that there are 156 disks of which 16 are actually contained in the collection, and the remaining 140 are backup disks (which have been accumulating over the years) of the collection’s computer system and digitised contents. Old backup disks may not be useful to restore a system crash, but I have kept them to provide an audit trail over the 20+ years that the digital system has been in operation. Over that period documents have been lost, the index has had fields deleted by mistake, files have been corrupted, and no doubt other errors have occurred. Although the number of such occurrences is low, when such problems are identified it is very useful to have the ability to trace back through previous states of the system.
Another activity that has been prompted by the digital preservation work is to establish what future plans the current supplier of FISH (the document management system I use) has for the system. Last time I asked the question in February 2016, I was told that there are no plans to upgrade the product and that current customers who wanted to look at alternatives were being advised to consider a product called File Stream supplied by Filestream Ltd which is based in Berkshire in the UK. I spoke to the Fish supplier, m-hance, again earlier today and was told there had been no change – it is unlikely that Fish will be upgraded and Filestream is still the recommended replacement product. When I contacted Filestream last year I was told that the product would cost £750 to purchase and £250 a year for support including upgrades.
When I was investigating Filestream last year, I also took a quick look at Open Source document management systems and found several – some of them being free to use. However, further investigation would be required to establish what other components (such as the back-end database) would have to be acquired and whether they would also be free.
These and other options to future proof the collection will all be considered in the digital preservation project currently underway.