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File Format Recommendations

PURR accepts all file formats and will provide preservation support for as many formats as possible. Upon the publication of a dataset, PURR assigns one of three levels which represent the level of support:

Sustainable: PURR recognizes and fully supports these file formats because they have the highest probability of long-term stability. Sustainable formats are openly documented, supported by a wide range of software platforms, widely adopted, have no data compression (or lossless data compression), and are widely accepted within the archival community. Sustainable file formats will receive Full Preservation

Supported: PURR recognizes these file formats. These formats not meet the minimum requirements for a Sustainable ranking but come close and for practical reasons, may be necessary for long-term care. These formats are more likely to require migration in order to remain viewable. Supported formats are proprietary, widely adopted, publically and commercially important, have lossy data compression, or may be a format which has been depreciated in favor of a newer version. Supported file formats will receive Limited Preservation.

Unsustainable: PURR cannot recognize these formats. Unsustainable formats are not viable for long term storage or accessibility. These formats are proprietary, have little publically documented information, are not widely adopted, have lossy data compression, and are only supported by a single or very few software platforms. Unsustainable file formats will receive Bit-level Preservation.


File Type Sustainable Supported Unsustainable
Word Processing PDF/A, OpenDocument Text PDF/B, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Open XML, Rich Text Format CorelWordPerfect, Lotus WordPro, PDF
Plain Text Plain Text, Comma-separated file, Tab-delimited file
Structural markup SGML w/DTD, XML w/DTD SGML w/o DTD, XML w/o DTD
Spreadsheets OpenDocument Spreadsheet, Comma-separated file, Tab-delimited file, PDF/A Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Excel Open XML
Databases Delimited Flat File w/DDL Microsoft Access, dBase Format
Audio WAVE AIFF (uncompressed), Standard MIDI, Windows Media Audio, MPEG, MP2AAC Audio CD, DVD-Audio, RealAudio, Shorten, RIFF-RMID, Extended MIDI, Module Music Formats
Video Archival format not currently established. AVI, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Quicktime Windows Media Video
Images TIFF, JPG 2000 JPEG, PMG, PDF/A, GIF RAW, Adobe Photoshop, Kodak PhotoCD, Encapsulated PostScript, FlashPix, PDF