Guide to Choosing Microfilm Media


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Facts About Microfilm

Microfilm: The Most Reliable Document Preservation Method 

  1. 35mm and 16mm microfilmThere are three main microforms: microfilm, microfiche and aperture cards. Microfilm is presently the most common microform for various types and sizes of documents. Archive quality microfilm life expectancy is 500 years with proper storage. 
  2. When composed properly, a 35mm microfilm reel can hold a large number of various sized documents. 35mm microfilm is best for larger documents such as engineering drawings, architectural plans, plat maps, newspapers or ledger books (portrait orientation) to produce images that have sufficient resolution (300dpi or better) for proper reading by human or scanner at a later date.
  3. 16m microfilm is usually used for long term storage of letter, legal, and ledger size documents (up to 12" x 18" landscape orientation or A3 size landscape orientation), commonly referred to as office documents.
  4. microfilm life expectancyMicrofilm is affordable - documents are recorded on microfilm at costs similar to making a copy or print.
  5. Microfilm is an unalterable, eye-readable format. Although originally used as a more cost effective means of distributing information, it is now the
     most trusted form of document preservation for critical documents and data, most especially among various manufacturers, utilities and government agencies where documents must be kept for 10-200 years or more. (Graph shows the life expectancy of various media used to store government records and other information at 68 degrees Fahrenheit and 40% relative humidity.)

  6. Microfilm drastically reduces necessary storage space compared to paper and lowers document storage costs.
  7. The process of preservation microfilming is more cost effective over time compared to digital storage when considering the necessity to migrate data and upgrade hardware and software over many years.
  8. Repeated migrations or conversions of data over time can result in data degradation. Loss of bytes or misinterpreting bytes of data are likely to occur with continuous conversions or migrations which can corrupt data, make it not viewable, or lose information.
  9. It is accepted as a legal record over a long period of time.
  10. Your permanent microfilm record can be digitized for easy everyday access to documents.