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What are the specs of workstations people are using for digital preservation activities?

+1 vote
The questioner at #digpres2014 wanted to know detailed specifications of the machines that are being used in digital preservation.  Specifically, what dedicated machines in a stand-alone environment have been allowed by various government agencies?

A good answer will have dates, operating systems, processors, memory, CPUs - as much detail as possible!
asked Jul 23, 2014 by SpencerGoodwin (450 points)
For some context, both this and http://qanda.digipres.org/212/criteria-should-consider-determining-hardware-imaging-station came out of my comment/question at #digpres14 which was both an actual and a meta question. I was curious how "info seeking" we want to allow questions to be.

In this instance, I was building an imaging-only workstation (not a FRED, but a built-from-scratch custom machine for use imaging floppies, zip/jaz, external/internal drives, cards, etc) and wanted to aggregate hardware specs, processor, OSes, "features" (like # of ports), etc, and costs from multiple institutions that have built ad-hoc forensic workstations.

I had 3 or 4 examples from research and conversation -- enough to demonstrate a variability in balancing price/performance/functionality that suggested more documented cases would help me (and others) in picking/choosing and decision-making. Thus, it is a bit of "fishing" question -- not seeking a specific answer, but multiple answers to better document what institutions are doing in order to assist others looking to do the same. Such info would be better documented here than elsewhere (was my general thinking). But I acknowledge a wariness of listicle-type questions ("Check Out the Specs on the Summer's Top 25 Hottest Digital Forensics Workstations!") on this site.

I think we determined asking those/these types of questions is okay. In this case, the related question Andy mentions is a closer to the spirit of the actual question.

2 Answers

+1 vote

I don't know if it's possible to give a really good answer to this question. Digital preservation can cover a very wide range of activities, so it probably depends rather a lot on the specifics of the task(s) in hand and the context.

For example the BitCurator project has published this article on how to set up a curation workstation, and the specification there is broadly similar to that provided by this article on outfitting a digital preservation program. This similarity is perhaps unsurprising as both are focussed on capture/transfer of data from old media, and therefore should suite you if that's the kind of thing you're thinking of.

However, for me, digital preservation means keeping many terabytes of web archive data safely stored and as assessible as possible, and so my hardware requirements are very different.

answered Aug 15, 2014 by anjackson (2,950 points)
0 votes

In early-mid 2013, I was preparing to set up my own workstation and so I did a survey of peers, using publicly available information (blog posts, etc.) as well as personal emails. I've posted a summary of my findings in a Google Spreadsheet in case it is useful, despite being over a year old. Since I didn't get permission from everyone to share their info publicly at the time I gathered it, I've removed all identifiers.

In my own case, I knew we wanted to run FTK and when I priced out a customized desktop machine that would do that well, I found that it was close enough to the cost of a FRED to be not worth the additional work that the customization would take. Of course, YMMV.


answered Aug 19, 2014 by ChristiePeterson (590 points)