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The importance of file conversion

The importance of file conversion
How to ensure your digital files are accessible for the future

The digital universe as we know it continues to expand. We save and convert physical files to digital formats to hard drives, and upload them to the Cloud. Is this effort in vain?

This past week, American internet pioneer Vint Cerf spoke at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting. "We don't want our digital lives to fade away. If we want to preserve them, we need to make sure that the digital objects we create today can still be rendered far into the future."

His point is that it is not enough to ensure an item is digital, we must also ensure that it is accessible.

How to ensure your digital files are accessible for the future

While Cerf speaks to accessible data far into the future and broader efforts toward digital preservation, it is just as important to make the files that you need available for your smart office when you need them.

Say, for example, you scanned images using the software of a camera company in the early 2000s and placed it on a floppy disk. When is the last time you saw a new computer with a disk drive? And what about that proprietary software you utilized to scan images? Without access to the software, you may not be able to open those files.

You certainly do not need to keep most files for more than a few years, but you may want to keep some records of historical significance to your business.

The easiest way to do this is to 'Save As' into the most up-to-date format while the software still opens the older file type. For example, Microsoft Works (.wps) file types will open and can save as Microsoft Word (.docx) file types. You may have to utilize converter software if the original software is no longer available—a quick search should help you find the converter that you need, like this one to convert a Microsoft Works file.

If it is proprietary, like accounting software, you may need to reach out to the company for a solution. Most importantly, pay attention to changes in file formats to make certain your files remain accessible in the future.

Do you have files that you need to convert? Tell me about it in the comments below, on Twitter @nerdsquawk or via email at jessica@nerdsquawk.com.

The opinions of Jessica Michael are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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