On text documents
Posted May 14, 2012 19:41 UTC (Mon) by rgmoore
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In reply to: On text documents
Parent article: Who owns your data?
Yes, having to test (and upgrade to later versions if necessary) a VM image every year will be a pain. But it's probably the only reliable way.
I disagree. As I see it, there are only two ways of preserving a file: in an editable form that's intended to be updated further or in an archival form that's intended to preserve the file as close to its existing form as possible. If you intend to edit the file further, you can't guarantee that you'll be able to preserve its existing formatting anyway, so you might as well migrate it to a modern, well documented format like ODF while trying to preserve the existing formatting as well as possible. If you're trying to preserve it as a finished, archival document, you're best off translating it into a format like Postscript or PDF that is properly designed to preserve formatting at the expense of being editable.
What you really don't want to do is to rely on a brittle solution like running old software in a VM. It may be able to preserve fidelity a little bit better than the alternatives, but that only works as long as you have a working VM. Going from perfect fidelity to nothing is not a graceful failure! Rather than worrying about maintaining a working VM indefinitely, you'd be much better off spending your effort on a virtual printer for your existing VM that would let you export all your documents to PDF.
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