Practical Technology for Archives

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As archives receive born digital materials more and more frequently, the challenge of dealing with a variety of hardware and formats is becoming omnipresent. This paper outlines a case study that provides a practical, step-by-step guide to archiving files on legacy hard drives dating from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s. The project used a digital forensics approach to provide access to the contents of the hard drives without compromising the integrity of the files. Relying largely on open source software, the project imaged each hard drive in its entirety, then identified folders and individual files of potential high use for upload to the University of Texas Digital Repository. The project also experimented with data visualizations in order to provide researchers who would not have access to the full disk images—a sense of the contents and context of the full drives. The greatest challenge philosophically was answering the question of whether scholars should be able to view deleted materials on the drives that donors may not have realized were accessible.