by Adam Harwood
It sounds like something from CSI New York. And its something that I, an Archivist, have been doing for the last few months. No dusting off old manuscripts for me – digital forensics is my bread and butter. The reality unfortunately is not as exciting as it sounds, but maybe you, my library and archive colleagues, might be interested in this young yet burgeoning aspect of digital preservation.
On my desk currently sits a normal looking laptop computer, but boot it up and you’ll be looking at an unfamiliar screen that is the first step in preserving all Special Collections’ digital collections. I call it the digital forensics machine and we will use it to transfer digital records off of physical storage media like external hard drives and usb sticks and into a digital repository. Our digital repository doesn’t exist at the moment, but we can prepare our records to be transferred to it for when we do get it. I’ll explain what a digital repository is in another post where I’ll also explain what digital preservation is. For the moment I want to describe the digital forensics process and explain why we need to do it in the first place.