Formats age. A question is how and, perhaps even more importantly, when to migrate to newer formats.
My Adobe PDF reader updated the other day, and I suddenly received this notice when opening a file:
The first thought I had was: This is might not be “OK”. Next came the questions: Should I worry?  Was I about to lose some important information? Do I really have to do anything about this?
Naturally, pop-ups like this and the questions they raise aren’t limited to PDF. Messages like this show up frequently in many of our software apps – notices of missing plug-ins, fonts that can’t be located, files that can’t be opened because the software is outdated, etc.
In this series we will take a look at various data formats, what information remains after format conversion, and how software opens files, and what data the software gives us access to.
While Bevara generally advocates preserving and not converting, we realize that preserving data in its original format is not the answer in every situation, so along the way we will discuss when to “normalize” and when it might be fine to yield on conversion parameters (swapping one font for another, letting go of a feature we know our customers will never need, etc.), and how to get the most out of formats when we do normalize.
We are fortunate to be able to spend time with many people in the archivist community who have already invested a great deal of  thought into how and when to preserve their data. We’d also love to hear from you. Send us your thoughts, questions, and suggestions to and we’ll be happy to address them in future posts or to answer you directly.