Results of the 2021 Fixity Survey and Fixity Case Studies

The 2021 Fixity Survey Working Group is pleased to announce the publication of the results of the 2021 Fixity Survey and corresponding Fixity Case Studies.  The 40 question survey was completed by 116 respondents over a month long period.  

The Report documents the results of each question in the areas of 1) basic information about fixity practices, 2) how fixity is being used, 3) fixity in relation to cloud services, 4) fixity errors, and 5) general demographic information.  

Several key points can be made from studying the survey results, some of which are listed below with more details provided in the report. 

  • The results demonstrate just how important fixity information is to the digital preservation community, with over 96% of survey respondents confirming that they utilize fixity information within their organization and over 98% of these using checksums (sometimes alongside other types of fixity information). The primary reason fixity information is used by the community is to determine whether data has been altered over time.
  • Despite a clear consensus that the use of fixity information represents good practice, the results demonstrate huge variation in fixity practices across the community. There are a variety of practices reported across the survey questions, including at what point fixity information is verified, the frequency of checks, where fixity information is recorded, and the checksum algorithms in use. 
  • Receiving fixity information at the time of acquisition remains a challenge.
  • Though fixity checking lends itself well to automation, for many it remains a fairly manual process, with a majority of respondents using manually-run software to carry out this activity. 

In addition to analyzing the results of the survey, the Fixity Survey Working Group conducted follow-up interviews with five organizations to explore fixity practices in more detail. Case studies from four of these organizations are currently included in the report and provide a rich illustration of how fixity is used within specific organizations, and build on some of the findings of the survey itself.

You can read and/or download the Report, Data files, and Codebook from the NDSA OSF site.  

Thank you to all of you who participated in the survey. We appreciate your time and effort spent in providing the information to us.  

Thank you to the members of the Fixity Survey Working group who worked on a tight schedule to complete this work in time for DigiPres.  

~ The 2021 Fixity Survey Working Group co-chairs

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