Overview: Digital Preservation Service (DigiSafe)

What is DigiSafe?

The University of Oxford DigiSafe service has been set up to meet the need for secure long-term archiving of digital material. DigiSafe provides a storage solution for off-site archiving of material originating from different constituents across the University (e.g. college archives, departmental offices, research units).

DigiSafe offers a secure system for long-term preservation of digital objects that is easy to use, flexible, and affordable. The main features of the service are:

  • Short or long-term archiving (10+ years)
  • Secure lifecycle from upload to long-term storage 
  • Simple upload/download facility (‘drag-and-drop’) as well as other methods for secure transfer
  • Easy access to archived files, with built-in viewers for exploring material directly on the platform
  • Granular access permission settings
  • Simple workflows for non-archival specialists as well as advanced functions for professional archival use
  • Scalable and flexible to fit the needs of different departments

There are four strands to DigiSafe’s capabilities which are key to a digital preservation strategy:

Keeping data

  • 100% data integrity with four copies of all files
  • Automated retention schedules
  • Fixity and checksums
  • Verification of files on upload

Keeping the meaning of data

  • Ability to add metadata at file and container level
  • Analysis of file formats using a PRONOM (UK National Archives) classification

Maintaining access to data

  • File format viewers - no need to have specialist software installed locally to view files
  • Functions to convert or extract data e.g. email archives

Maintaining trust in data

  • Logging access to data, whether from users or the system itself
  • Reports on fixity and checksums
  • Events dashboard using the PREMIS data dictionary

DigiSafe is based on the Labdrive platform provided by Libnova. It was chosen after a procurement process involving representatives from Colleges, IT Services, Bodleian Libraries, Departments and the DPC.

IT Services manage the contract and contact with the supplier on behalf of the University. Departments and colleges that wish to use the service pay an annual fee and then have access to their own, dedicated space which they can allocate, structure, and manage in the way that works for them. Training and support is provided.

Libnova supplies Libsafe Research as part of the ARCHIVER (Archiving and Preservation for Research Environments) project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

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DigiSafe is an opt-in service for long-term preservation of digital material. The service has been set up to provide secure, reliable storage in a system that is easy to use, flexible, and affordable.

The service is using the cloud-based platform Libsafe Research, provide by Libnova. Units that join the service will be allocated dedicated storage space (1 TB by default, additional storage can be provided) which they will be able to set up and manage to fit their needs. Uploading and viewing material is simple and does not require specialist skills or training. Optional, advanced features allow units to devise their own workflows, custom metadata schemes, retention schedules, and more.  

Material stored in DigiSafe is preserved in four copies distributed across two cloud providers. The platform has been assessed by the University's Information Security team and is deemed safe for storing all kinds of data, including confidential data.

An optional submissions area for guest users to submit material to an archive can be set up. The platform also supports Jupyter notebooks for data analysis or performing administrative tasks programmatically. 

DigiSafe is using the digital preservation platform Libsafe Research, provided by Libnova. The platform includes a dedicated cloud environment with a web interface deployed in UK datacentres with data escrow in UK Amazon AWS Glacier/deep archive. Four copies of every file are stored: two live ('hot') and two in Amazon Glacier ('cold'). The system creates fixity and digital signature information and replicates the content in several storage platforms. Every month, every file deposited in the hot-storage part is verified to detect corruption, bit rot, etc. Data is encrypted both at rest and in transit.

Any type of digital material can be stored on the platform. Files and folders can be added in a number of ways including direct browser upload, (drag-and-drop), S3 and uploads via the API. Other options are also available, such as utilities for transferring and synchronising files between platforms. An optional, customisable data verification process can be activated to make a fast analysis over the deposited content and warn about duplicates, malware, password-protected files or obsolete file formats.

Metadata can be added to files and folders. Metadata fields are customisable and metadata is indexed and searchable. 

Textual content (text and metadata) is indexed, so authorised users can perform full-text searches over the content. The embedded file viewer can be used to access the files without downloading them first. The viewer is configured to work on a wide range of file formats (currently 75, including uncommon and obsolete formats) which makes it possible to inspect the content even if the corresponding software is not available on the user's local machine.

A date-based retention policy can be activated. When active, protected content cannot be changed while the policy is active. At the end of the period, defined by date or number of days, the content owner is notified to review or delete the content. 

Access rights can be set by each participating unit. Users can be given different level of access and their access can be limited to certain folders. Search results will be limited by user permissions.

Changes are traced and registered. All actions are recorded in an activity log.

Content can be shared with internal and external users (provided the relevant permissions have been granted).

A number of reports can be generated, including reports on space used and preservation risks and potential problems (e.g. duplicated files, empty files, mis-matched formats and extensions).

The platform has been assessed by the University's Information Security team and is deemed safe for storing all kinds of data, including confidential data.

DigiSafe is a specialised service for secure, long-term storage. It is not:

  • Cheap storage. DigiSafe storage costs reflect the additional security that is provided (multiple copies, different locations, indemnification for data loss etc)
  • A storage solution for live data during the lifetime of a research project
  • A file-sharing system for collaborative working on live data. Existing solutions can provide this, e.g. OneDrive, SharePoint, or RFS
  • A backup system. Use the HFS backup service to preserve your data at an off-site or secure cloud location
  • Support for open access to research data or publications. This is provided by the University’s institutional repository, ORA


Units that wish to sign up to using the service are asked to register to use Digital Preservation Service.  The team will then contact you to finalise the arrangements for setting up your space and help you get started using the service. 

The annual subscription price includes the use of the platform for your unit and 1 TB of storage. More storage space can be allocated either from the start or as and when needed. Current costs are available in the Price List.

Subscriptions run from 1 October and are automatically renewed by the subscribing unit unless cancelled three months before renewal.

Payments will be collected by IT Services. For Departments and units using the University Financials System, costs will be internally recharged. For Colleges not using the University Financials System, IT Services will invoice against a PO. 

Price list 2023/2024 (annual cost excl VAT)*

Platform subscription incl. 1 TB storage


Libnova platform with 1 TB  


Standard mode (hot) 
2 independent providers, 4 copies, 2 hot + 2 cold, 100% durability, high compensation and active escrow

Please contact digisafe@it.ox.ac.uk for latest pricing

Archived mode (cold)
2 independent providers, 4 copies, 2 cold + 2 cold, 100% durability, high compensation and active escrow

Some features like search, preview, metadata management may be limited or unavailable while the container is archived.

Please contact digisafe@it.ox.ac.uk for latest pricing

Changing the container status from Standard to Archive (freeze operation) 


Changing the container status from Archived to Standard (unfreeze operation) per TB 



*  Material stored in 'hot' storage can be directly accessed, viewed, and downloaded. Material in 'cold' storage can be searched (not 'full text' search) but not accessed unless it is first moved to 'hot' storage (an 'unfreeze' charge is made).


If you want to know more or talk about any aspect of joining the service, please contact the Service Manager on digisafe@it.ox.ac.uk

We are happy to show you the platform and talk though how the service can meet your requirements.

Current users can find documentation and training materials on the "Digital Preservation ('DigiSafe')" Microsoft Team. Local support is provided by the DigiSafe Unit Administrator in each unit. Please contact the Service Manager digisafe@it.ox.ac.uk for details about the relevant person in your unit.