|“||the process of copying bits that make up one or more files from one storage device to another.||”|
Refreshing digital information by copying will work as an effective preservation technique only as long as the information is encoded in a format that is independent of the particular hardware and software needed to use it and as long as there exists software to manipulate the format in current use. Otherwise, copying depends either on the compatibility of present and past versions of software and generations of hardware or the ability of competing hardware and software product lines to interoperate. In respect of these factors — backward compatibility and interoperability — the rate of technological change exacts a serious toll on efforts to ensure the longevity of digital information.
Digital information is produced in highly varying degrees of dependence on particular hardware and software. Moreover, it is costly and difficult for vendors to assure that their products are either "backwardly compatible" with previous versions or that they can interoperate with competing products. Refreshing thus cannot serve as a general solution for preserving digital information and this conclusion has prompted discussion of other kinds of solutions.
- "Overview" section: Preserving Digital Information: Report of the Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information, at 5.