Federal Records Management

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January 12, 2001

Attachment to NWM 05.2001: Guidelines to Agencies on Preserving a Snapshot of Their Web Sites at the End of the Clinton Administration

What does the one-time snapshot need to include?

A one-time snapshot of your agency's public Internet web site, taken on or before January 20, 2001. Your public web sites are those web sites maintained by the agency, directly or under contract, available for unrestricted viewing by the general public through the Internet. It does not include in-house or intranet web sites available only to employees of the agency. It should not include documents with information that is restricted in any way, such as security or privacy restricted information.

The snapshot needs to include all of the documents available to the public that are located on the agency's web server(s). In other words, the documents must be internal or contiguous to the web site. The snapshot should not include documents located on external servers to which the web site links. The agency should terminate those links.

Where the site or a page on the site is dynamic (i.e., the content exists in a database that serves the content through templates) take a snapshot of the template. Explain in the documentation that the file is a template that draws the information from a previously linked database (and give the title of the database) which is not included in the snapshot.

The snapshot should not be a back up of the system. It should be in a format that can be read on other platforms.

What is the procedure for sending the snapshot to NARA?

Agencies may send the snapshot on 3480-class tape cartridges, 9-track tapes, or CD-ROM. Media specifications are described in 36 CFR 1228.270 http://www.archives.gov/about/regulations/regulations.html and below:

  • CD-ROMs should comply with ANSI/NISO/ISO 9660-1990—Volume and File Structure of CD-ROM for Information Exchange.
  • Magnetic tape cartridges should be 18-track 3480-class tape cartridges recorded at 37,871 bpi that meet ANSI X3.180-1990, American National Standard: Magnetic Tape and Cartridge for Information Interchange. The data shall be blocked at no more than 32,760 bytes per block.
  • 9-track tapes should be recorded at 1600 or 6250 bpi that meet ANSI X3.39-1986 or ANSI X3.54-1986.

For each web site, include in the package to NARA technical documentation adequate to identify, service and interpret the web site files. This should include:

  • NARA Form 14097, Technical Description for Transfer of Electronic Records, and a completed NARA Form 14028, Information System Description Form, or their equivalents. If you need copies of these forms, contact NARA as provided below.
  • Web site information content description documentation. This can be a copy of the site map or a list of files. The information should be sent in paper or ASCII form.
  • Any information on the proprietary software and hardware used in constructing the web site that is needed to re-materialize the site.
  • Information identifying the format of each file included in the snapshot, and where applicable, the formats of any embedded objects.

Send the snapshot to:

National Archives and Records Administration
Electronic and Special Media Records Services Division (NWME)
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park MD 20740-6001

Who can I contact for further information?

For further information on transferring the files or taking the snapshot, and to request copies of the forms, please contact 301-713-6639 or CER@nara.gov.

How do I take the snapshot?

How you take the snapshot will depend on the level, depth, and availability of programming skills, and the format of the files. This methodology requires a low-level knowledge of file editing tools and web management skills (i.e. stream editing programs, web and platform server software configuration and administration, HTML, and JavaScript v1.2). The steps you need to take are summarized below.

  1. Ensure that proper contingency procedures have been performed before proceeding (i.e., back up site).
  2. Configure (e.g., mirror) your web site (or the portions to be transferred to NARA) in your developmental environment (e.g., another server).
  3. Identify and calculate the number of external web site links.
  4. Convert all external links by rerouting them back to original initiation points. Insert a notification message that the link has been terminated.
  5. Identify all the files that need to be copied. See What does the one-time snapshot need to include? for information on the files that must be copied.
  6. Copy the files to the appropriate media preserving the file and directory structures.
For further technical guidance, you may send an e-mail to CER@nara.gov or contact 301-713-6639.

Memo to Agencies: NWM 05.2001