The National Archives releases new version of file-identification software DROID

On 7 March 2011, the National Archives launched the newest version of Digital Record Object Identification (DROID), an open source, file-identification and digital data management tool for the public and private sectors, and for individuals to download and use.

DROID can scan millions of files at a time and correctly identify hundreds of different file formats, including most document, audio video and image files in common use.

The tool was first developed by the National Archives in 2003 to help with digital archiving. The new version, DROID 6.0, is described as both faster and more accurate than its predecessors and can be used by anyone wishing to explore the contents of their digital collections.

Jessie Owen, Head of Digital Continuity at the National Archives, said: “DROID was devised as a simple solution to the increasingly complex problems associated with managing digital data. The National Archives has made it available to anyone wishing to manage their files better from personal computers to businesses, charities and Government departments. The latest version is faster and more accurate than ever before.”

The information DROID provides can help in making decisions about what data to keep, enabling users to reduce the amount of data held so that work becomes more efficient and cost-effective. It can also help large organisations to highlight files which have not been modified for years and which may no longer have business value as well as older formats which may not be supported by existing technology.

The software is already in use at a number of central government departments in the UK, as well as by the National Archives’ counterparts in Estonia, Austria, Finland and Switzerland.

In addition to using binary signatures, DROID 6.0 now uses container signatures for looking inside zip and OLE2 formats, for improved identification. It is also easier to update and create new signatures. Signature information is provided by digital preservation researchers at the National Archives and the information is regularly updated.

DROID has been designed so that it can be installed with minimal impact on a system. It is written in Java and is platform independent. DROID does not depend on any software being already installed on a system and can be uninstalled by simply deleting it. As open source, it can be downloaded and run without restrictions free of charge. Only the National Archives can make changes to the authorised version.

The platform is part of The National Archives’ Digital Continuity Service, which also provides guidance, risk assessment and access to the Digital Continuity Framework, a directory of commercial services and solutions to help secure the survival of digital information.

First published on Open Source Observatory & Repository Europe.

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