Archiving for long-term accessibility

December 8, 2014

2 minute read

When most people think of archiving, they think about storing something away as-is in a box, for safe-keeping…like that last scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The reality of archiving, however, is much different, or it should be.

When I visited Library and Archives Canada last year, I learned that they use a combination of temperature-controlled storage, special handling, chemicals and preparation to ensure that the valuable content they hold onto is not only stored, but preserved and available to future generations to study.

So why don’t we take the same diligence with our electronic content?

Most archive systems will simply take your data, as-is, and make sure that that data is stored on some medium for long-term retrieval. Ask yourself this question though: just because you’re able to open the box, does that mean the information is legible?

Think about those credit card receipts that fade over time.

Or how Office documents seem to magically reformat every time Microsoft releases a new version.

How can we prevent these types of issues from getting in the way of whatever it was we were doing when we opened the box?


Similar to how Library and Archives Canada puts special chemicals on papers to ensure they will endure the test of time, or how a car enthusiast will prepare his vehicle for winter storage, preparing your digitally-born, electronic content for archive will guarantee your content will remain valuable long after the tools to create that content have been forgotten.

TIFF to the rescue?!

Years ago, when the majority of business documents were shared in paper format, imaging technologies that allow the scanning to the ubiquitous TIFF format solved this problem for the paper crowd. This has worked fantastically for years; you can open most TIFFs on any computer, and the files look identical to the day they were scanned.

However, now that we’ve entered an era where most communications occur electronically, some of the advances in searchability and usability are lost when you convert your digitally-born content to TIFF. Also, the files are much larger when converted to TIFF. So what to do?

PDF and PDF/A are our new heroes!

Why, you ask?

  • Save up to 90% or more on your disk space!
  • Find your content with full-text search capability!
  • Attach supporting files right inside your archive, making management and retrieval processes much simpler!
  • Much easier re-use: you can copy content and especially text right from a PDF document for re-use in other content; when you need to do this with TIFF, it often involves re-typing and costly errors.
  • Guaranteed long-term viability - both PDF and PDF/A are ISO standards, unlike TIFF which remains a proprietary standard maintained by Adobe.

So, do you have an archiving strategy?


Are you preparing your files for long-term viability by converting them to a standard format as part of your archiving strategy?

Even Better!

Are you using a standards-based format that provides maximum flexibility, value and smallest file sizes guaranteed to be viewable for practically ever?

You must be using PDF.

If you want to make sure that your PDF and PDF/A versions prepared for archive are an exact replica of your original documents, you want to use Adlib PDF. Trusted by 95 of the top 100 Pharma companies around the world for automating their content-to-PDF workflows in their New Drug Application submissions, Adlib PDF’s fidelity, reliability and speed is the technology of choice for high-volume, automated processes including preparing content for long-term archiving.

Avoid your own Digital Dark Age and make sure your archives are prepared for the future with Adlib PDF.

Don’t forget to share this post