Document Storage According to PDF/A Government Standards…

In January 2014, as part of the open standards initiative, the UK government stated that PDF/A should be the proffered choice for non-editable documents. For all non-editable documents, it states that PDF/A should be used as default. PDF 1.7 used where rich functionality set is required.

So, just to clarify this, PDF/A is an ISO-standardized version of the Portable Document Format (PDF) specialized for the long term digital preservation of electronic documents.

PDF/A differs from PDF by omitting features ‘ill-suited to long-term archiving’, such as font linking as opposed to font embedding.

The ISO requirements for PDF/A file viewers include colour management guidelines, support for embedded fonts, and a user interface for reading embedded annotations. PDF/A is designed to give a minimal feature set to enable long term storage assuming that storage formats will vary in future rendering a full PDF document either partially or totally unreadable.

More information is on (http://standards.data.gov.uk/proposals/viewing-governments) cabinet office website.

It is remarkably easy to save documents into this format, but the big question is still where and how you store them so they are perfectly readable in 7, 15 or 40 years. The cost of storing printed documents is astronomical in relation to the term or time frames required. Figures from £150 to £450 per A4 box per year including some access, are regularly banded around.

Electronic storage in a web based document archive has to be the best solution for the digital age. With costs of less than £4,800 for a Perpetual 10 user fully compliant document storage and management system, (http://digitalprocess.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/IR-Web-based-Document-Management-2013.pdf) companies can create their own totally resilient archive for any time frames governance requires. Documents can now be scanned into this easily and free of charge, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is now fixed, very low, and the documents have an endless fully secure life span if required. Strong administration rights access is a must, and sometimes forgotten, as human error is often the cause of ‘lost’ digital documents. Now a full HTML document archive can be managed by folder, library or even by document and a full ISO audit trail of who did what and when is logged.

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