Have you got a file format you can’t identify? Send it to PRONOM.
PRONOM is an online file format registry, created and managed by The National Archives, containing details of more than 1,300 different digital file formats. It enables a wide range of users from across the world to find out what digital files they have and in which formats.
Knowing what file formats you have is an important step in constructing a digital preservation strategy. PRONOM can help you determine if your ‘.doc’ file is a Microsoft Word Document 97-2003 or a WordPerfect for Windows Document v6.0. This can then help you decide the appropriate digital preservation actions to be taken for the file formats under your care.
PRONOM is embedded in the majority of digital preservation systems such as Archivematica, Libnova, Preservica, Roda and Rosetta.
Every format which is added to PRONOM is given a Persistent Unique Identifier (PUID). Each entry can contain information about the file format, including a description of the format and any mime/media types (file format classifications used by web browsers to identify how to open particular files, assigned and listed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority).
Currently we are focused on developing signatures which will allow format identification. PRONOM uses both external and internal signatures. External signatures are based on the file extensions – but, as you can tell from the ‘.doc’ example mentioned above, these are not always fully reliable or specific. The internal signature looks at the byte sequence of the file; these offer the most accurate form of identification. Continue reading »